The Story Behind GCA's History
Scott Kramer, an adult who lived with classic autism since an infant and was diagnosed officially in 2007, was the program director for the GCA Centre for Adult Autism until he passed away in September 2019. He had been searching for a very long time to find an organization that catered to the needs of adults on the autism spectrum.
Scott went to many local agencies who said, "Great concept, but we don't know of anything like that here." Online, he came across national and global AS groups. But nothing local to the Chattanooga area. Sensing a strong lack of local resources for adults with AS, Scott developed a vision to help meet the need for these adults locally. On December 31, 2010, he founded Greater Chattanooga Aspies (GCA).
GCA had its first group meeting in April 2011, as an adults-only group. In the summer of 2014, Scott began to receive requests from parents who wanted to know two things: (1) what would become of their adult children if the parents died and (2) how to get their adult children off the computer (as the majority of requests came from parents of young adult children 18-23 years of age).
By the spring of 2015, support groups for young adults on the autism spectrum and their parents were created. In August 2015, the Chattanooga Autism Center held the inaugural North Georgia Autism Conference in Dalton, GA. Parents of adults and young adults on the autism spectrum and the adults themselves saw the need to have support groups in the Dalton area. In September 2015, the first support groups were held in Dalton.
After Scott and his wife, April, gave a presentation on "Intentional Relationships" at the annual Chattanooga Autism Center Conference in April 2016, he felt the timing was right for GCA to begin offering more services to the adult autism community. In July 2017, the Inaugural Tri-State Adult ASD Symposium (later renamed to the current yearly Southeast Adult Autism Symposium) took place in Chattanooga. In July 2018, the 2nd Annual Southeast Adult Autism Symposium took place at the Chattanoogan Hotel. The 3rd Annual Southeast Symposium was held in July of 2019.
In September 2019, Scott passed away from colon cancer. Nathan Zimmerman, who had been helping Scott with running the center since 2014, took over as director. He continues to uphold Scott's values and many GCA activities including the monthly support group meetings and annual Adult Autism Symposium.