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Ruth Sullivan, advocate for people with autism, dies at 97

Ruth Sullivan, advocate for people with autism, dies at 97
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Ruth Sullivan, advocate for people with autism, dies at 97

Ruth Sullivan, advocate for people with autism, dies at 97

In 1984, at the age of 60, he received his Ph.D. in special education, speech pathology, and psychology from Ohio University, which made her stand out more with the people she lobbied for.

His tireless but gentle style of advocacy continued until his retirement in 2007.

“It was clearly fantastic to provide guidance to families on a national scale,” said Stephen Adelson, executive director of the Autism Research Institute. “But she was one of the first to talk about the medical comorbidities associated with autism, such as seizures, sleep problems, and gastrointestinal problems. And she was the first to point to the importance of providing services to adults with autism. was.”

Jimmy Birney, chief executive of the Autism Services Center (the position Dr. Sullivan held from 1979 to 2007), was hired 33 years ago to work part-time with Joseph to develop his social skills.

Dr. Birne said over the phone, “The philosophy that worked so hard to instill in us was the attitude of parents, to think that it is our child who is receiving these services.” “She used to say that the difference between good and excellent service was in the details, and, like a good coach, she kept an eye out for the details.”

Today, Joseph lives and works in the Autism Training Center, a group home run by the Autism Services Center.

In addition to Joseph and his daughter Lydia, Dr. Sullivan’s other sons in the family are Larry, Richard and Christopher; his other daughters, Eva Sullivan and Julie Sullivan, who are writing a book about their mother; his sisters, Geraldine Landry, Francis Buckingham and Julie Miller; his brother, Charles; 12 grandchildren; and four great-grandchildren.

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Dr. Sullivan’s influence was international. She received letters from parents around the world looking for solutions for their children, and she traveled widely to talk about autism.

“She was invited to a conference on autism in Argentina in the 1990s,” her daughter Julie said over the phone. “At the time, Argentina was in the throes of the ‘refrigerator mom’ thing, and she met up with the parents and told them they needed to start their own group. So she’s the godmother of an autism parent group in Argentina “

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