Lisa Parles '84 spoke on World Autism Awareness Day at the Autism Awareness Panel at the United Nations Headquarters, addressing the needs of individuals with autism who exhibit challenging behaviors.
For Parles, this important topic has a personal connection: her son Andrew was diagnosed with autism at age three. He succeeded for many years at a specialized school, but at age 19, like many young adults with autism spectrum disorders, he suffered a major regression that included challenging behaviors. "There are many, many Andrews out there but there stories aren't being told," Parles explained during her presentation. "Countless families struggle for access to effective services and while they're waiting, they suffer in unimaginable solitude." Her full presentation is available on YouTube.
Her experience in this area extends far beyond the personal, however. Parles currently works as a partner in the Parles Rekem, LLP law firm, which provides legal representation for children and adults with special needs and their families. Her practice focuses on representing individuals with disabilities and their families in the areas of early intervention, special education, transition and adult services, residential placements, reasonable accommodations, insurance coverage and guardianships.
Furthermore, Parles was an invited expert on the United States General Accountability Office's panel entitled, "Youth With Autism—Transitioning to Adulthood" last spring. She has also been an invited speaker before the New Jersey State Senate Legislative Oversight Committee as well as the New Jersey State Assembly Human Services Committee.
Parles recently earned the Autism Advocacy Award from Marblejam Kids in Bergen County, New Jersey. She is a co-chair for Council 8 of the Statewide Support Councils which serve several counties in the state and a founder of the Quest Autism Foundation and the Special Quest Recreation Program. Additionally, she is a frequent lecturer and has appeared in many broadcasts including Nightline and World News Tonight.
At Hamilton, Parles majored in public policy. She then earned her J.D. from Rutgers University in 1987.