The Autism Society of Greater Wisconsin receives grant award to increase access to mental health care for the Autism community

The Autism Society of Greater Wisconsin is proud to be a part of the coalition to enhance mental health care access in diverse communities across Wisconsin. Gov. Evers and the Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) have awarded $1 million in grants to ten organizations across Wisconsin. The grants support projects aiming to build the capacity of mental and behavioral healthcare workers to more effectively serve diverse clientele. The Autism Society of Greater Wisconsin received the grant to promote and enhance delivery of two mental healthcare training courses, Mental Health Therapy with the Autistic Client and Autistic Mental Health & Well-Being.

Awarded in conjunction with Gov. Evers “Year of Mental Health” initiative, the grants are designed to address the recent escalating behavioral and mental health concerns. Says Evers, “The organizations receiving these grants are doing the kind of work we must continue to invest in to ensure that all our Wisconsin communities have adequate access to mental and behavioral health services.” Evers and DHS seek to build resilience and fortitude across Wisconsin for generations to come.

Mental Health and Well-Being Trainings

The Autism Society of Greater Wisconsin hosts two levels of training for the behavioral health workforce about Autism and working with Autistic clients. Trainings are part of the effort to improve engagement between community-based behavioral health professionals in Wisconsin and Autistic individuals. Curriculum for both trainings are developed and presented by Judy Endow LCSW, Sharon Hammer, MS, LPC, and Lisa Hoeme, MS, LPC.

Trainings have already made a significant impact on many mental health care providers in Wisconsin. One provider shared the following:

“The course has been valuable in helping me to learn how to engage autistic individuals in therapy and how to make sure I am making my sessions accessible and inclusive for all…As a lifelong learner, I appreciate that this course has filled me with knowledge, growing what I do know and what I don’t know…Now that I know better, I can do better. The trainers did a wonderful job putting together a comprehensive course which builds on fundamentals and connects them to strategies and interventions. I already see changes in my practice from all that I have learned and am looking forward to referencing these materials in the future. Thank you to the wonderful trainers for sharing their time, resources, and valuable knowledge and putting together a fabulous course.”

Autistic Mental Health and Well-Being

Autistic Mental Health and Well-Being is a six-hour introductory course establishing foundational knowledge about the intersection of Autism and mental health. Behavioral health professionals will gain knowledge about Autistic neurology and culture and understand stressors that may impact Autistic clients. They will also examine their own ableism and its implications for working with Autistic clients. The grant funding will allow up to 50 behavioral health professionals to join the course as a virtual training. Funding will also support the delivery of the training as a one-day in person event this fall. Topics include:

  • Autistic neurology
  • Ableism
  • Common stressors and trauma experienced by Autistic people
  • Differences in emotional regulation, interoception, and neuroception for people with Autism
  • …and more.

Mental Health Therapy with the Autistic Client

The second, more comprehensive training, Mental Health Therapy with the Autistic Client includes the introductory course and four more training sections for a total of 30 hours of pre-recorded content. The course is paired with live Clinical Application sessions with the trainers. The training provides advanced knowledge about providing quality and effective mental health therapy to Autistic clients. With grant funding, the Autism Society of Greater Wisconsin will offer the Mental Health Therapy with the Autistic Client course to 50 clinicians in 2023. Topics covered in the training include:

  • Everything from the introductory course
  • History of Autism as a diagnosis
  • Strategies for setting up a supportive therapeutic environment
  • Strategies for adapting common therapeutic modalities for Autistic clients
  • How Autistic traits might overlap with other DSM diagnoses
  • …and more.

These trainings will help behavioral health professionals gain knowledge and confidence necessary for working with Autistic clients. They will also facilitate a re-examination of attitudes and beliefs about Autism. Professionals will walk away empowered to identify unmet needs in the Autism community. They will aquire tools to improve the service delivery of mental health services to Autistic clients and expand equitable and inclusive mental health services available to the Autism community.

“Accessible mental healthcare services that address the unique needs of the Autism community are critical to empowering Autistic individuals to live fully,” says Kirsten Cooper, Executive Director. “The Autism Society of Greater Wisconsin is honored to receive this award. We will continue working to develop more inclusive and equitable communities across Greater Wisconsin.”

Read the press release by DHS here.

Learn more about mental health trainings here. Behavioral health professionals interested in joining the trainings as part of this grant award can email Kirsten at to be placed on the interest list. A special application process will be announced later this spring. 

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