When my son was four and half he was diagnosed with Autism. There was a bit of the unknown that propelled me to find solutions and answers to help define his future. Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is defined by the Center for Disease Control as a developmental disorder that can cause significant social, communication and behavioral challenges. One out of every 68thchildren will be diagnosed with ASD and what’s even more startling is one out of every 42 boys will be diagnosed with ASD.
In recent years we have seen a steady increase of ASD by 12 to 15% each year. It is a statistic that has left many families ill prepared to manage the disorder and every aspect of the person’s life. This held true for my personal experience with my son. Before his diagnosis I knew very little about Autism. My exposure to it was limited to references in movies or my limited exposure to seeing an individual with ASD from time to time in the neighborhood. It became clear that I had to eliminate the stereotypes I may have developed over the years and begin to cultivate an attitude and a belief that would help me and my family effectively deal with the great challenges that lie ahead.
I quickly realized that I was not alone. There were other families struggling through the same process. It was at this time that I decided to take a vision I had for myself and my family and transform it into meaningful action by creating a non-profit organization that would assist the many families that are impacted by Autism. I wanted to create a vehicle in the community to increase Autism awareness and help families more effectively deal with the responsibility of raising a child with autism. I especially wanted to focus on communities that have been traditionally under-served and under-represented
As the founder of Emerging Autism Solutions, my goal is to increase awareness, help others to recognize the signs of autism in its early stages and to help them tailor and implement early intervention strategies that will set their child on an early path for a more fulfilled life. Early signs of autism include a child not responding to their name by age 12 months, lack of eye contact, flapping hands or rocking their body, delayed speech and repeating words or phrases incessantly. It’s easy to dismiss these behaviors as a phase or to expect your child to grow out of them. However, if we fail to properly diagnose ASD, we fail our children.
If you have questions or concerns about autism, please consult with your personal physician. You can also contact your school district to ask for an evaluation. Early intervention has proven to lead children with ASD to a more adaptive life and in some cases had lead to an increased chance at a full recovery. Early intervention is also credited with reducing the overall health care cost of those who have ASD.
Along with increasing awareness Emerging Autism Solutions offers multiple support groups, mentor programs, advocacy training and transition solutions such as skill acquisition and employment placement. Our support groups meet once a month from September to May. By participating in support groups, families gain invaluable information on funding options, available therapies in the community and how to work with your school to produce the best outcomes for your child.
Our Mentor program pairs families together to exchange and share thoughts on raising a child with autism. The information and support cover areas ranging from potty training to best practices in setting up a home program. It is designed to encourage open and honest communications to help families better prepare for various stages of a child’s life.
Emerging Autism Solutions offers workshops and advocacy training. This form of educational awareness and outreach empowers the community with information on how to navigate the system and set goals for your child in their educational setting, helping to identify available therapies (including speech and occupational) and assist in identifying a strength of the individual with ASD so vocational skill can be acquired and employment placement a reality.
We will be hosting two events on April 1st and 8th 2017, to celebrate Autism Awareness and Minority Health Month. The events will be held at the Neighborhood House (NHH), located at 1000 Atcheson St, Columbus, OH 43203. The workshop will provide the community including, parents, family members, para-professionals and professionals working with individuals with autism, skills and techniques to look for signs to detect Autism, manage a successful behavior program, and share advocating practices for families to put into practice. We will also discuss goal setting for social interactions, communication, class participation, and independence.
Our speakers will be professionals from Ohio State University and Nationwide Children’s Hospital. While parents are sharpening their advocacy skills, children on the spectrum will be welcomed in the gym for a basketball fundamentals camp. They will enjoy practicing their social skills by dribbling and passing a ball in small groups. This is designed as a family event that is open and free to the general public.
Emerging Autism Solutions has plans to replicate our programs and services. By the beginning of 2018 we will be in 3 major cities in Ohio with initiatives to expand throughout the state. By embracing collaborative relationships we are able to expand and help families in Ohio.
After participating in a support group session, a parent, Melody , stated “I felt solidarity and I knew in my heart that in order for our beautiful children and families to achieve and experience the very best in what God has ordained for us… this was the place to start.” Comments and responses like this one from Melody fuel my drive to serve the community through Emerging Autism Solutions. It is also the love that fills my heart for my own son that motivates and inspires me to build a world for him and others where the goal for our efforts and actions is to find solutions.