"When Words Hurt" -- Parent Feedback Playing a Vital Role in Enriching Community Dialogue About Autism


Earlier this spring, our Communications Department distributed two parent surveys – designed for civilian and military families that have children with autism – as part of a broad initiative to develop communications that would help educate the public on how to be more supportive of the autism community.

The surveys dealt with difficult and sensitive subject matter, including asking parents to identify insensitive or hurtful comments they have experienced. Respondents were also asked to share strategies on how to turn those encounters into opportunities to teach others about how to be more supportive of individuals with autism and their families. Parents were generous with their time and thoughtful in their personal viewpoints.

Collective feedback from the surveys was used to write a two-piece article for the May and June issues of Exceptional Parent magazine, entitled, “When Words Hurt.” The piece was co-authored by Marisa L. Petruccelli, Psy.D., Director of our ASD Clinic in Massachusetts, and Susan G. Lauermann, Director of Public Relations.

Read the article here.

The article includes quotes from families from around the country.

Commentary from one of the surveys was also shared in the form of a media advisory that earned May Institute significant exposure in news reports across the country. Interest in the topic is a clear testament to the fact that, despite the volume of information available about autism, many people outside the autism community still struggle with understanding the disorder. To view the media advisory, click here.

We will continue to reach out to our parent community periodically as we expand our educational materials geared towards raising autism awareness.