Greater Philadelphia Autism Society

The Greater Philadelphia Autism Society was established in 1977 by a dedicated group of parents with a strong desire to band together and be a united voice to represent individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorders and spread awareness. This has been continued throughout the years.

Presently, we are a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization whose Board of Directors consists entirely of volunteers, representative of parents, family members and professionals supporting those with ASD, serving the five county region of SE Pennsylvania, (Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Montgomery and Philadelphia counties).

The Greater Philadelphia Autusm Society's mission is to promote lifelong access and opportunities for persons within the autism spectrum and their families, to be fully included, participating members of their communities through advocacy, public awareness, education and research related to autism.

Guiding Principles

  • The Autism Society's efforts are focused on meaningful participation and self-determination in all aspects of life for individuals on the autism spectrum and their families.
  • The Autism Society promotes individual, parental and guardian choice to assure that people on the autism spectrum are treated with dignity and respect.
  • The Autism Society proactively informs, influences, guides and develops public policy at the federal, state and local levels, including setting agendas for policymakers and legislators, for the benefit of the autism community.
  • The Autism Society is the respected voice of the autism community and the primary source for information by providing timely, frequent, relevant and professional communication.
  • The Autism Society works to ensure that every affiliate is a successful afflilate, sustained by a collaborative relationship between the national office and affilates to realize mutual benefit and to protect the interests of both.
  • The Autism Society advocates for multi-disciplined approaches to autism research focused on improving the quality of life for individuals across the autism spectrum and their families.
  • The Autism Society works to ensure financial self-sufficiency and growth for all Autism Society operating units and integrated operations across all levels of the Autism Society.

At the very core of the parent choice philosophy is the belief that no single program or treatment will benefit all individuals with autism. Furthermore, the recommendation of what is "best" or "most effective" for a person with autism should be determined by those people directly involved - the individual with autism, to the extent possible, and the parents or family members. Providing information and education to help in decision-making are more highly regarded at the Autism Society than is advocating for one particular theory or philosophy.

The growing membership base of the Autism Society encompasses a broad, diverse group of parents, family members, special education teachers, administrators, medical doctors, therapists, nurses and aides, as well as countless other personnel involved in the education, care, treatment and support of individuals with autism. Recognizing and respecting the diverse range of opinions, needs and desires of this group, the Autism Society embraces an overall philosophy that chooses to empower individuals with autism and their parents or caregivers to make choices best suited to the needs of the person with autism.

Options Policy

The Autism Society promotes the active and informed involvement of family members and the individual with autism in the planning of individualized, appropriate services and supports. The Board of the Autism Society believes that each person with autism is a unique individual. Each family and individual with autism should have the right to learn about and then select, the options that they feel are most appropriate for the individual with autism. To the maximum extent possible, we believe that the decisions should be made by the individual with autism in collaboration with family, guardians and caregivers.

Services should enhance and strengthen natural family and community supports for the individual with autism and the family whenever possible. The service option designed for an individual with autism should result in improved quality of life. Abusive treatment of any kind is not an option.

We firmly believe that no single type of program or service will fill the needs of every individual with autism and that each person should have access to support services. Selection of a program, service or method of treatment should be on the basis of a full assessment of each person's abilities, needs and interests. We believe that services should be outcome based to insure that they meet the individualized needs of a person with autism.

With appropriate education, vocational training and community living options and support systems, individuals with autism can lead dignified, productive lives in their communities and strive to reach their fullest potential.

The Autism Society believes that all individuals with autism have the right to access appropriate services and supports based on their needs and desires. 
-Adopted by the Autism Society Board of Directors, 4/1/1995
- Revised by the Autism Society Board of Directors 12/12/2009

Elected Officers

    • President - Patti Erickson
    • Vice President - Ira Fingles
    • Treasurer - Pat Lyons
    • Secretary - Lisa Ames

Board of Directors

    • Holly Kofsky
    • Jean Ruttenberg
    • Beth Sullivan
    • Sue Tuckerman
    • Tara Horwitz
    • Pam Frebowitz

Key Committee Members

    • Anna Filmyer
    • Sally Linder
    • Carol Rosser