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Philadelphia Autism Project


The Philadelphia Autism Project is a citywide initiative established by the office of former Councilman-At-Large Dennis M. O'Brien and continues to be supported through the office of Councilmember Michael Driscoll. The Philadelphia Autism Project is conducted in partnership with the Department of Behavioral Health and Intellectual disAbility Services (DBHIDS). The Philadelphia Autism Project supports autistic individuals and their families living in Philadelphia through education, connections, and innovative projects. This effort represents the first of its kind at the municipal level and is working in conjunction with the ASERT Collaborative. The project delivered a wide-ranging final report to identify the most effective, efficient, and comprehensive system of care for autistic individuals and their families living in Philadelphia. Please visit or follow us on Twitter @PhillyAutism and Facebook @PhillyAutism to learn more about the Philadelphia Autism Project initiatives. Specific questions can also be emailed to

Ongoing Projects

  •  Access for All: Generating Guidelines for the Adaptation of Parks and Recreation Sites and Programming
    • Principal Investigator: Lindsay Shea, DrPH
    • Funder: PA Developmental Disabilities Council
    • Description: This project works with Philadelphia’s Parks and Recreation and community stakeholders to develop virtual workshops and resources to sustainably support Parks and Recreation staff on best practices in meeting the needs of autistic individuals, their families, and other caregivers that may utilize a Parks and Recreation site.
  • Philadelphia Autism Network – Self-Advocate (PAN-S)
    • Principal Investigator: Mi-Yeet Wong, LCSW and Kaitlin Koffer Miller, MPH
    • Funder: Eagles Autism Foundation Community Grant
    • Description: The Philadelphia Autism Network – Self-Advocate (PAN-S) Workshop Series presents Life on the Spectrum, a workshop series developed by and for autistic people. Topics vary and focus on advocacy, education, relationships, and intersectional identities, with content developed by autistic individuals. For more information, visit:
  • The Autism Family Navigator Project
    • Principal Investigator: Lindsay Shea, DrPH
    • Funder: Community Behavioral Health (CBH) through the Philadelphia and Department of Behavioral Health and Intellectual disAbility Services (DBHIDS)
    • Description: The Autism Family Navigator project was a priority initiative voted on by the Philadelphia Autism Project stakeholders. This project includes implementing a Family Navigator service, developing a curriculum and training program, and considering the need for data collection and reporting tools for service delivery.

Completed Projects

  • Cooking with Confidence for Autistic Individuals
    • Principal Investigator: Lindsay Shea, DrPH
    • Funder: Drexel ExCITe Seed Grant
    • Description: Drexel ExCITe Center’s seed grant has supported the launch of the Cooking with Confidence program for Autistic Individuals, in collaboration with the Free Library of Philadelphia’s Culinary Literacy Center. Cooking with Confidence has supported adults on the Spectrum, their families, high school autism support classrooms, and volunteers. In three hands-on classes, each cohort of 10 participants learn basic cooking skills, including how to follow a recipe and stay safe in the kitchen. Participants prepare a plant-based meal and eat it together at a communal table. The recipe used in class, a book with affordable recipes, and a tote bag filled with fresh ingredients are sent home with participants. For more information, visit:
  • Summit on Birth to Five System Navigator for Autism and Developmental Disabilities
    • Funder: Children with Special Health Care Needs Mini Grant through the City of Philadelphia
    • Description: A Summit on Birth to Five System Navigator for Autism and Developmental Disabilities was hosted on June 30, 2018. The Summit convened stakeholders including family members and systems that serve children with autism and other developmental disabilities in the birth to five age range. The goal of the Summit was for attendees to learn and provide feedback on existing service navigator models and discuss options and opportunities for creating a system navigator role for autism and developmental disability services. For more information visit: