Ruth Sullivan, Advocate for People With Autism, Dies at 97


In 1984, at 60, she earned a Ph.D. in particular schooling, speech pathology and psychology from Ohio University, which gave her larger standing with the people she lobbied.

Her relentless but mild model of advocacy continued till her retirement in 2007.

“Providing guidance to families nationally was obviously spectacular,” said Stephen Edelson, govt director of the Autism Research Institute. “But she was also one of the first people to talk about medical comorbidities associated with autism, like seizures, sleep problems and gastrointestinal problems. And she was one of the first to point to the importance of providing services to adults with autism.”

Jimmie Beirne, chief govt of the Autism Services Center (the place Dr. Sullivan held from 1979 to 2007), was employed 33 years in the past to work half time with Joseph on creating his social expertise.

“The philosophy that she worked so hard to instill in us was to have a parent’s perspective, to think as if this is our child receiving these services,” Dr. Beirne said by telephone. “She’d say that the difference between good and excellent services is in the details, and, like a good coach, she had an eye for details.”

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

In addition to Joseph and her daughter Lydia, Dr. Sullivan is survived by her different sons, Larry, Richard and Christopher; her different daughters, Eva Sullivan and Julie Sullivan, who’s writing a book about her mother; her sisters, Geraldine Landry, Frances Buckingham and Julie Miller; her brother, Charles; 12 grandchildren; and 4 great-grandchildren.

Dr. Sullivan’s affect was worldwide. She acquired letters from dad and mom all over the world seeking options for his or her children, and she or he traveled broadly to speak about autism.

“She was invited to a conference on autism in Argentina in the 1990s,” her daughter Julie said by telephone. “At the time, Argentina was in the grips of the ‘refrigerator mother’ thing, and she got together with parents and told them they needed to start their own group. So she’s the godmother of an autism parents’ group in Argentina.”

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