SAN ANTONIO -- Imagine every single seat at the AT&T Center is full and 10,000 are waiting to get in.
30,000: That's the number of people in the local area with an autism diagnosis, according to a coalition of service providers.
Historically, getting help was a tangled mess of random services, but now one-stop assistance is just a few keystrokes away.
Tuesday the Kronkosky Charitable Foundation revealed a new coalition and website they say will transform the lives of families who struggle to locate the resources they need to survive every day.
The coalition is Autism Lifeline Links and their website, www.autismlifelinelinks.org, is a connection to a comprehensive network of services.
One 4-year-old, Eli Rodriguez, and his family have been getting help from Any Baby Can since his diagnosis.
The Rodriguez family has six children and two of them need help with autism challenges, so Eli's mother Valerie said she is looking forward to the new service because it will save time and relieve some of the stress related to managing the troubles they encounter.
"When you talk to these families about how scalding it is to not know where to go and the frustrations of dealing with the medical services providers, this is the best way we've found to make an instant fix,” said Tullos Wells, the Managing Director of Kronkosky.
Wells said this effort is the first of its kind in the country and it is important because people with autism need a variety of services during every stage of their lives.
"If you have autism at six, you're going to have autism at 66," Wells said.
Wells said a group of nine referral agencies studied the issue for nearly one year and talked with many families and one theme emerged.
"Why do I have to make 17 phone calls to 17 different organizations to figure out what I need to do? Why does it take so long to get a diagnosis? I need help now," is a common response Wells said.
Wells said many people misunderstand autism and have trouble accepting some people struggle to interact with the world the way most people do.
"Doctors. Grocery stores. Dentists. Going to the movies. Everything you have to do in ordinary day to day life, but doing it with people and at places where they get it! And, they can make it less painful, less worrisome for the families," Wells said.
The system offers a simple registration process. Once a person completes the form, a Care Coordinator is immediately assigned and begins to make referrals to helpful providers.
The service will allow information sharing and collaboration between agencies, to eliminate potential gaps in services.
The referral agencies involved so far include: Any Baby Can, Autism Community Network, Autism Treatment Center, The Arc of San Antonio, Brighton Center, Children's Association for Maximum Potential (CAMP), The Children's Hospital of San Antonio (Comprehensive Autism Program "CAP") Clinic, Respite Care of San Antonio and Special Reach.
The new HIPAA-secured site was created by local software firm TAVHealth and Dr. James Rubin.
Wells said even though there is currently no cure, this service will be of tremendous value.
"If you have the ability to go one place that helps you deal with all of the things that you struggle with every day, that will be a sea change for those families," Wells said.
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