Susan Lauredo is by profession an architect, having graduated magna cum laude from the School of Architecture at Florida International University (FIU). Interestingly, she had led, as an undergraduate, the lobbying drive to get that school established – then proceeded to graduate first-in-class in its inaugural graduating class.
As the mother of two sons, aged 24 and 25, her involvement with autism began in the early 1990s, when it became clear that her youngest, Oliver, was on the spectrum.
At first her life was triple-tracked, architect, parent, and advocate/activist. It soon became clear that her profession would have to go into abeyance – as is so common with the moms of autism spectrum children. The focus narrowed to Oliver and to assisting other similarly disabled children.
In 2007, Susan became the Miami-Dade Advocacy Chair for Autism Speaks. In that capacity she was part of a successful lobbying effort to change the laws in Florida to mandate coverage of autism related treatments by private insurance companies.
Also, as a volunteer child advocate, she has helped many families navigate and understand the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) to secure the educational rights of their school-age impacted children. As such she’s participated in many IEP meetings and has taught parents how to write an appropriate IEP. She has also successfully set up programs within our local school district. In addition she has given classes in the local community on how to write an IEP. Being half Hispanic (British and Bolivian) and fully bilingual has been pivotal to her effectiveness in this role in South Florida.
Within OAR she has been active on the Board of Directors and has helped her husband Rod in his very passionate RunForAutism fundraising efforts since 2006. Rod has run eight OAR marathons and Susan and Rod have together raised over $100,000 in these events.
Susan’s autism focus evolves over time as Oliver progresses through life. As Oliver has turned 24, her focus is on young adults with autism and the lack of post-school job opportunities. Susan is in the process of establishing a social enterprise, Oliver’s Cakes & Catering, whose objective is to provide individuals with autism part-time employment in a work environment designed to leverage their strengths. The first and immediate objective is to provide a job that is in itself rewarding. The second longer term objective is that “graduates” of Oliver’s will take away with them skill-sets that will help them in other employment opportunities throughout a long working life.