Autism A to Z offers the following programs to help break the cycle of isolation and expand opportunities for families of autistic children.
We will conduct a vigorous outreach program in an attempt to contact and inform families about the services we offer and help to break the cycle of isolation. Our public fundraising events will make the subject of autism more visible, both within the local autism community and throughout the region at large.
Family Support Groups
Parent support groups will offer a safe place to share experiences and concerns. These groups may meet for six-week sessions or they may be ongoing weekly or monthly sessions.
Social Skills Groups and Facilitated Playgroups
These will be small, inclusive groups of children with a three to four year age range that meet on a regular basis with a trained facilitator to practice social interactions and speech.
In order to maximize exposure to local resources, we will schedule monthly family activities at various venues. Examples of these activities include: hikes, bike rides, water parks, special needs playgrounds, zoos, pumpkin patch/corn maze, sporting events, children’s theater, or sensory friendly movies.
Online Information Center
The Online Information Center will be accessed through the Autism A to Z website. This storehouse of resources for families with autistic children will include recommended resources such as:
- Medical professionals specializing in autism
- Educational professionals and tutors
- Behavior therapists
- Speech therapists
- Psychologists and counselors
- Caretakers and respite workers
Autism 101 DVD
In the course of our research into the critical needs of autism families, Autism A to Z learned that almost no help exists for parents who speak English as a second language. Repeatedly we hear parents saying, “I just don’t know what to do to help my child.” “What is autism?” “Where can I get help?” This is true for all parents, but for parents who are not fluent in English, the problem is exacerbated.
Autism A to Z secured a small grant to produce a short professional-quality video explaining autism spectrum disorder in simple, understandable terms and offering suggestions for what parents can do in the aftermath of a diagnosis. We will make copies of the DVD for distribution, but will also post it on our website and YouTube to reach more people. In addition, we will explore other means to spread this critical information.
Workshops for families, siblings, and possibly other family constellations will be offered. These will be staffed by Autism A to Z personnel or outside professionals. Topics may include:
- Crafting measurable IEP goals
- Social skills
- Behavioral issues
- Financial and estate planning
- Health insurance
- Encouraging speech and language
Job skill training
Autism A to Z will maintain a referral list of local counselors skilled at working with autism-related issues. In the future, Autism A to Z will have counselors on staff to assist families in dealing with the challenges of autism.
Other programs, such as adaptive horseback riding to help with speech and sensory integration, may be offered in the future depending on available resources and demand.