ALUT-The Israeli Society for Autistic Children
ALUT was established in 1974 by parents of children with autism and has developed since then to become Israel’s predominant resource for families coping with autism and pervasive developmental disorders (PDD). The mission of ALUT is to ensure the well-being, rehabilitation, economic status and future of people with autism in Israel. ALUT offers a comprehensive array of services and programs for people with autism and their families, beginning at the time of diagnosis throughout adulthood. The following are the major services and programs offered by ALUT:
Research shows that early identification of children with autism opens up a window of opportunities to affect brain development through consistent, corrective treatments. ALUT, in conjunction with the Assaf Harofeh Medical Center, provides early diagnosis and state-of-the-art treatment of autism. Led by a renowned Neuro-Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrician and staffed by experts in Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA), the Center diagnoses hundreds of children every year and offers a daily intervention program. ALUT’s Diagnostic Center produces research on its unique diagnostic and treatment techniques and thereby advances the treatment of autism in Israel and worldwide.
Receiving an autism diagnosis is overwhelming for families. ALUT established six Family Centers in four metropolitan locations (Jerusalem, Ramat Gan, Haifa and Beer Sheva) to provide immediate support to every family that receives such a diagnosis. The Family Centers’ staff, which consists of professionals and trained volunteers, provides the following services: toll-free hotline, individual and family counseling, referrals to professionals and community services, lectures on topics concerning PDD/autism and its implications, support and information groups for parents, grandparents and siblings, and a project, called “Parents for Parents,” which connects families that need support and guidance in order to better cope with their situation. Each Family Center also includes a resource center which provides access to a library, information from reliable Internet sources, video library, professional magazines and professional databases.
Pre-School and Beyond
Research proves that early intervention- as early as 18-24 months old- greatly enhances the effectiveness of treatment. Since Israeli government facilities are not available for children with special needs under the age of three, ALUT has taken it upon itself to provide the necessary intervention for infants with autism. Currently ALUT operates 9 Rehabilitation Nursery Schools throughout Israel for children ages 1-4 years old. Specialized teaching interventions are used with the children in these intensive learning environments, and guidance for the parents is also provided.
Supplement programs for children between ages 5-21
ALUT supplements the Ministry of Education services in existing pre-schools, as well as in elementary and high schools, by establishing integrated educational programs and providing equipment and treatment therapists. In addition, ALUT’s After School Clubs offer a safe after-school environment for parents who work and need assistance.
Summer Camps and Vacation Resort
ALUT operates summer camps specially designed for children with autism during their vacation from school. ALUT also established the first (and only) guesthouse in Israel specially designed for children with autism and their families, “Aluteva.” The guesthouse for autistic children provides treatment, supervision, and activities specially designed and adjusted for each child’s special needs, while presenting the families with the rare opportunity to rest and regain their strength, enabling parents to divert their attention to their other children.
Homes for Life
In keeping with the philosophy that adults with special needs should be integrated into the community, ALUT currently operates 16s Homes for Life located in residential communities throughout Israel. Assisted by professional staff and volunteers, the residents acquire daily living skills with special attention paid to self-awareness, interpersonal communication and integration into the community. ALUT’s Homes for Life give families hope for the future of their autistic children.
ALUT’s guiding principle is that normalized, community-based working and living arrangements are the optimal environments for people with autism. To that end, ALUT’s Occupational Centers help their members to develop the necessary skills for sheltered employment or part-time work. Individual training programs are developed for each member according to his/her abilities. There are currently 10 Occupational Centers of ALUT operating throughout Israel.
ALUT invests great efforts in advancing the understanding of autism amongst the general public, and in creating systematic changes in their conditions to better the lives of all people with autism in Israel. Due to ALUT’s activity, new laws have been passed for the benefit of people with autism in Israel. ALUT conducts intensive activity in government offices, the high court and other governmental bodies to preserve the achievements already reached, to reach new achievements and stand guard, on a daily basis, to make sure that the rights of the autistic population are maintained. This is a daily battle that never ends, but ALUT, as a national organization, is committed to the cause of protecting the autistic persons’ rights.
ALUT- The Israeli Society for Autistic Children
The views expressed in this paper are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the views of the NLM Family Foundation.