Archived | Autism Speaks 2007 Family Services Community Grants | #NotAnAutisticAlly

2007 Family Services Community Grants

At Autism Speaks, one of our goals is to change the future for all individuals who struggle with autism spectrum disorders. 

In keeping with this goal, the Family Services Committee established Family Service Community Grants in order to promote services that will enhance the lives of those affected by autism spectrum disorders.

Recognizing that there are multiple needs in this expansive and varied community, the focus of these grants is on proposals that serve to build the field of services for individuals with autism and expand the capacity to effectively serve this growing community. As such, the Family Services Committee funded grants for projects that focus on the following 4 areas of need:

Young Adult and Adult Services 
Equipment and Supportive Technology

Recreation/Community Activities

Identified area of need – Education 

Behavior Solutions, Inc., O’Fallon, MO
Colin Peelar, Ph.D.

Educating and Training Providers on Effective Practices

As the number of children diagnosed with ASD increases so does the need for trained providers.

The applicant will address the problem by providing education and training on effective practices in teaching and supporting children with autism. The proposal is to replicate an existing program that has been in operation for the last year with successful outcomes in geographical areas the current program can not reach.

Participants of the program will be service providers to children with autism. Each participant will receive 10 hours of workshops with topics such as teaching new behaviors, reducing maladaptive behaviors and improving performance in learning situations.

After attending the workshop, participants will receive hands-on training by a consultant that will help them apply what they learned in the workshop.

Two major goals of the program are to

1) teach participants effective strategies they can use in their services provision that will improve the outcomes and successes of the individuals they work with and

2) to teach participants how to effectively train others on what they have learned in the program.

Significance for people with autism:
 This proposal will increase the quality and quantity of service providers working with individuals with autism. 

Capitol Region Education Council, Hartford, CT
Ceila Robbins M.Ed. 

Training for Awareness and Service

The project will provide training in the SCERTS® model to the members of the Capitol Region Education Council’s Birth to Three teams, which typically include a speech pathologist, occupational therapist, physical therapist, special education coordinator and an early interventionist associate.

These teams are often the first professionals to encounter children with ASD and their families, and they play a key role in providing education, information and support and coordinating services. These team members will attend three days of training with Dr. Barry Prizant, one of the developers of the SCERTS® model.

As follow-up, Dr. Prizant will provide three days of consultation services, which will include consultation to individual staff, teams and parents; observations; an educational meeting with parents; and a follow-up meeting with Birth to Three team members. The goal of the follow-up activities is to support team members as they apply what they have learned and to increase the awareness and effectiveness of parents. 

Significance for people with autism: Service providers and families will be trained in the SCERTS® model. These service providers will be able to utilize the SCERTS® model with many individuals with autism that they serve.

Child Talk, Lexington, MA
Ann Densmore, Ed.D.

Using Play to Foster Communication in Children with Autism

Children learn to communicate and interact with others through play, but play is compromised in children with autism.

This project will create a 20-minute instructional film that will help parents and professionals teach children with autism how to communicate in play and become more socially connected to others.

The film will be based on the applicant’s recent book, Helping Children with Autism Become More Social, and will explain, through specific strategies, how to teach language during play through four phases of play therapy.

The film will use footage of children going through the four phases: play, joint attention, reciprocity, and engagement. The applicant plans to make the film available to parents and professionals around the world through her website, professional lists and speaking engagements.

Significance for people with autism
: This project will provide parents and professionals with the opportunity to acquire strategies for teaching children with autism to play and become more social. Since it is a film it can reach a wide number of individuals.

Massachusetts Advocates for Children, Boston, MA
Julia Landau, J.D. 

Autism Parents and Professionals Training Project: Targeting Outreach to Underserved Families

Children with autism typically need an array of services from their school districts. However, parents may not know what services to ask for, or what their children’s legal rights are with respect to getting services. Medical professionals and educators may be unfamiliar with the relevant provisions of special education law, and therefore less effective than they could be in assisting parents to obtain the needed services.

To address these issues, the applicant, a provider of legal services to the autism community in Massachusetts, has developed a three-part project.

First, the project will train 200 parents of children with autism statewide, informing them of the available services and their legal rights.

Second, the project will provide intensive services to 30 Haitian and Latino families, who will receive training, adapted to their own language and culture, and will meet regularly with project staff.

Third, the project will conduct special education law workshops for 250 medical professionals, educators and other service providers, with the aim of enabling them to write reports and IEPs that will be more effective in helping children obtain the services they need.

Significance for people with autism: Some 500 parents and professionals in Massachusetts will learn about the services school districts can provide to students with autism, as well as the special education laws relevant to obtaining those services. 

Organization for Autism Research (OAR), Arlington, VA
Peter Gerhardt, Ed.D.

Autism Resources for the Latino Community Outreach

The Latino community is underserved with respect to developmental disabilities including autism, and generally does not have access to web-based resources.

Accordingly, there is a need for printed materials about autism in Spanish. The applicant will respond to this need by translating into Spanish three of its highly regarded autism resource guides: An Educator’s Guide to Autism, An Educator’s Guide to Asperger Syndromeand A Guide for Transition to Adulthood.

The applicant will then print 2,000 copies each of these and a fourth guide, A Parent’s Guide to Research (already translated).

Together, the four guides will aim to provide proven, reliable, evidence-based, culturally adapted information about autism in Spanish.

The Organization for Autism Research (OAR) will work with Fusíon Multicultural, a Latino-owned marketing and advertising agency located in Arlington, Virginia, on the distribution plan for the materials. OAR has a successful history with Fusíon Multicultural, as they collaborated on OAR’s successful “Learn the Signs, Act Early” Latino Outreach Program.

Significance for people with autism
: This project aims to provide a source of reliable information about autism that is tailored to the needs of the Latino community. In addition, this translated information can be used well beyond the initial printing.

Pathways for Exceptional Children, Montville, NJ
Melinda Jennis

Project Win-Win

Optimal recreational activities for children with autism include regular social interaction with typically developing peers who live nearby and have had special training. The applicant has successfully built over 35 such recreational programs for children with special needs in Montville Township, New Jersey.

Of the participating children with special needs, 50-70 percent have a diagnosis on the autism spectrum. The applicant now seeks funding to expand its programs within Montville Township and to build a satellite program and training center in Union County, New Jersey.

The programs and activities to be expanded in Montville Township and initiated in Union County include:

1) Team sports and recreational activities, including baseball, tennis, bowling, golf, swimming, soccer and the like;

2) Acceptance and Awareness programs, including a 2-hour training for typically developing children that teaches them how to understand and work with their non-typically developing peers;

3) Learning through Life, a program that integrates academics and life skills for children with special needs (e.g., teaching math through a cooking project);

4) Magic of Reading, a program that matches each child with the reading strategy best suited to him or her; and

5) Statewide Outreach and Educational Reform, a collaboration with parents, schools and other locales to set up programs modeled on the applicant’s. 

Significance for people with autism
: Children with autism aged 3-21 in Montville Township and Union County, New Jersey will enjoy enhanced recreational and educational opportunities as a result of this project. In addition, other children with autism may benefit as a result of the applicant’s outreach program. Significant opportunity for replication of this project exists.

Richard Solomon, MD, PLC 
Ann Arbor, MI

Training Respite Care Providers in The P.L.A.Y. Project Intervention for Autism

The P.L.A.Y. Project is a practical application of DIR (Developmental, Individual-differences and Relationship).

Richard Solomon and his group have trained nearly 200 therapists and teachers in 70 agencies across 22 states to train parents to implement The P.L.A.Y. Project with children.

This proposal is to collaborate with Lansing Area Parents Respite Center to train their staff of respite care providers in The P.L.A.Y. Project techniques. By training respite care providers they will improve engagement and interaction with the children that they work with.

The applicant proposes to train Lansing Area Parents Respite Center‘s staff of 40 respite care providers using eight weekly educational modules each lasting two hours and then train 10 of those individuals more in depth using video supervision and coaching. This is a pilot project to develop a new model for respite care for children with autism spectrum disorders. If this pilot is shown to be feasible, the new model could be disseminated to respite agencies nationally, making the respite care system a part of the solution for treating autism spectrum disorders. 

Significance for people with autism: Respite care workers in the Lansing Area Parents Respite Center would be better trained to care and work more effectively with children with ASD. In addition, there is the ability to replicate this program if successful.

Richland School District 2, Columbia, SC
Mary Drew, M.Ed. 

LISTEN: The Link Is Specialists Training Educators Now

Richland School District #2 in South Carolina is an acknowledged leader in providing assistive technology to students with special needs. However, the district has identified problems in meeting the communication needs of children with autism. Teachers don’t know how to assess the students’ needs, match them with the appropriate assistive technology devices, or ensure that the devices are used effectively. In addition, there is no teacher training program in place to help teachers develop these skills.

Project LISTEN seeks to remedy these problems by training a core group of five teachers, who will learn how to meet the assistive technology needs of students with autism, train other teachers who have students with autism, and serve as mentors for those teachers. To train the core group, the district will create four comprehensive training modules. The district also will purchase augmentative communication devices that will be dedicated to teacher training, and used in hands-on work with students as part of the training process. The training modules will be made accessible to district teachers and also will be provided to the National Dropout Prevention Center for Students with Disabilities, for dissemination to other districts in South Carolina and around the nation. 

Significance for people with autism: Through teacher training, this project will permit assistive technology devices to be used more effectively for students with autism in Richland School District #2. Other students with autism could benefit if the teacher training program developed in this project is used by other school districts. 

Southwest Autism Research and Resource Center (SARRC), Phoenix, AZ
Marcy Adkins 

Educational Consulting

Students with autism require support to succeed in public school systems, and schools need support to work effectively with students with autism. This project addresses those needs through an Educational Consulting pilot program in 4-6 Arizona schools, with the ultimate goal of incorporating the program into all Arizona school districts.

Operated by the Southwest Autism Research and Resource Center (SARRC) located in Phoenix, Arizona, the project will provide training and consultation to the individual student, as well as to teachers, parents, classmates, the school and the school district as a whole. Services will be based on the principles of Applied Behavior Analysis, Positive Behavior Support and inclusion, and will address students’ social, academic and behavioral needs.

Students will be supported in inclusive programs and/or as they transition to such programs. Teachers, schools and districts will be trained to independently support students in inclusive programs, as well as to develop their own training and consultation programs.

Peers will be addressed through disability awareness training assemblies in the schools. The pilot project will also be used to demonstrate best practices in the schools as part of a statewide school system reform effort. 

Significance for people with autism
: This pilot program will directly support a minimum of 20 students with autism in 4-6 schools.

Disability awareness assemblies will involve another 1600-2400 students.

The pilot program will demonstrate best practices in educational programs for students with autism, and may serve as a template for educational reform in Arizona. 

UCLA, Los Angeles, CA
Jeffery Wood, Ph.D.

This project will involve teaching community practitioners working at a Los Angeles area school specializing in the education of children with autism (the HELP Group’s Village Glen School which serves 600 – 700 children ASD) to implement a cognitive behavioral therapy treatment designed for children with autism (Wood, Drahota, & Sze, 2007.)

The BIACA project at UCLA was developed with funding from a Cure Autism Now research grant and is proving to be an efficacious treatment targeting anxiety, social adjustment, and adaptive functioning skills in children with autism spectrum disorders (Wood et al., under review). The proposed project will take an initial step in disseminating this state-of-the-art treatment into the community.

On-site school practitioners (e.g., behaviorists, teachers, speech pathologists) at the Village Glen School will be trained to conduct weekly cognitive behavioral therapy intervention sessions with children aged 7 to 11 years old who have autism spectrum disorder and co-morbid anxiety disorders. Dissemination efforts will emphasize education of the community providers on the use of a treatment manual, including weekly clinical supervision (ongoing training and consultation) to ensure fidelity and quality of implementation. 

Significance for people with autism: Dissemination of cognitive behavioral therapy for children with ASD in the school setting should have immediate benefits for the children in the community attending the Village Glen School, as well as the future children who will benefit from the increased expertise of the community practitioners trained.

University of Miami Center for Autism and Related Disabilities, Coral Gables, FL 
Jennifer Durocher, Ph.D. 

Providing Outreach and Education to the Underserved Minority Families in South Florida

The applicant provides services for families of individuals with autism spectrum disorders in the South Florida area, and notes that Haitian-Creole and Spanish-speaking families are underserved within this community. This project will enable the applicant to better reach and serve the Haitian-Creole and Spanish-speaking populations in South Florida.

To improve outreach despite an absence of Creole-speaking staffers, the applicant will hire and train bilingual Creole-speaking parents to serve as liaisons to other Haitian-Creole families. Parent liaisons will provide accurate information on ASDs, encourage evaluations when appropriate, provide educational and referral information and assist families in navigating the school system and other community agency services.

To improve educational services, UM-NSU CARD will hold two all-day conferences (one in Spanish, one in Haitian-Creole) for parents and professionals, with basic information on ASDs and meeting communication and behavioral needs. UM-NSU CARD will also translate literature and educational materials into Spanish and Creole, and purchase augmentative and alternative communication devices that will be programmed in Spanish and Creole.

Significance for people with autism: This project will enable Haitian-Creole and Spanish-speaking families in South Florida to access basic information about ASDs through conferences and printed materials in their own language, as well as through Creole-speaking parent liaisons. In addition, Creole and Spanish-speaking individuals with autism in South Florida will gain access to augmentative communication devices programmed in their own language. 

University of Nebraska Medical Center, Omaha, NE
Torri Smith Tejral

Intensive Parent Training in Rural Central Nebraska

Presently, the majority of counties in Nebraska are considered Mental Health Shortage Areas by the Federal Health Resources and Services Administration.

Due to this shortage of mental health professionals, there is a significant lack of services available to children with an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Based upon data collected in 2006 by the Nebraska Department of Education, there are currently over 1300 children in the state verified with an Autism Spectrum Disorder.

The purpose of the project is to develop an intensive parent training program in three rural communities in central Nebraska (Lexington, Kearney and North Platte). The training would also be available to professionals, school personnel and care providers.

In addition to being located within the rural communities, child care would be provided to ease parent’s difficulty in attending sessions. The child care would be provided on-site and would be supervised by a trained graduate student. In addition to childcare, an interpreter would also be provided during the training session to address the need of Spanish-speaking families. There would be no fee for attending the training or for childcare while attending training sessions.

The Autism Parent Training Program would consist of 10 weekly or bi-weekly sessions to address a number of areas relevant to children with an ASD.

Topics covered during the sessions will include:

Introduction to Autism Spectrum Disorders, Components of Effective Treatment Programs, Reinforcement, Discrete Trial Training, Managing Problem Behaviors, Teaching in the Natural Environment, Working with Professionals: Creating a Team, and Accessing

Additional Services: Medicaid Waiver.

Two additional topics will be determined based upon a needs assessment that will be completed in each training location.

Significance for people with autism: This project would provide needed training for professionals and parents that are in rural communities without access to such training at the present time. Added components of childcare and an interpreter for Spanish-speaking families will further their outreach efforts.

Virginia Tech University, Blacksburg, VA
Angela Scarpa, Ph.D. 

Training Workshop in Pivotal Response Treatments for Autism Spectrum Disorders

The goal of this proposal is to increase parental and professional education in an empirically-supported intervention for individuals with autism spectrum disorders (ASD).

A continuing education workshop on Pivotal Response Treatment will be offered to families and professionals working with children with ASD. It will focus on ways to implement PRT techniques to effectively target appropriate, adaptive behaviors and increase their generalization across various contexts.

The workshop will be led by Dr. Daniel Openden, Clinical Services Director for Southwest Autism Research and Resource Center (SARRC) and the former head of Community Training for the Koegel Autism Center at University of California, Santa Barbara.

The training will consists of four consecutive days, 6 hours per day and include presentation of the content material via lecture, videotapes and demonstrations. Parents and professionals will be required to videotape themselves working with the child prior to and during the workshop. These tapes will be viewed and discussed during the training, so there will be interactive feedback by Dr. Openden to facilitate learning of the PRT principles.

Significance for people with autism: This training will increase knowledge of Pivotal Response Treatments on an informational basis for 100 parents and professionals through the 6 hour workshop on day 1. Moreover, the workshop will provide further individualized instruction for 20 of parents and professionals participating in days 2 – 4.

Identified Area of Need – Young Adult and Adult Services

Chapel Haven, Inc. New Haven, CT/Tucson, AZ
Betsey Parlato, MA 

Staff Training for Adult Autism Transition Program

Chapel Haven West, a satellite program of Chapel Haven, Inc., will open on the campus of the University of Arizona in July of 2008.

The program will serve up to 17 men and women, on the high end of the autism spectrum, in a two year residential program, followed by a transition to independent living in the Greater Tucson area, with support provided by Chapel Haven West for the lifetimes of its clients.

All four core program components—life skills, academics, employment and recreation/leisure—will be addressed. Chapel Haven West is an individualized program. Having an apartment building for the program in the heart of the University of Arizona campus, and having developed a relationship with various departments in the University, the program will stand alone in its ability to serve those on the spectrum who can benefit from all that the curriculum and the University can offer.

Chapel Haven has designed a two week training program for all CH West Staff with the intention to have it used as a model training program. The training will consist of two phases:

Phase 1–team building, program philosophy, overview of autism, discussions of effective strategies and

Phase 2–understanding the specific components of the curriculum through a combination of lectures and classroom exercises; applying the program’s philosophy and learned strategies directly to the curriculum components when the program opens.

The training is critical so that the curriculum can be delivered consistently, measured accurately, and published and so that this program can be replicated across the country by other programs, thereby serving more adults on the spectrum. 

Significance for individuals affected by autism: This program will offer individuals with high functioning autism/Asperger’s with the opportunity to participate in two year residential program with the goal of transitioning to independent living in the Greater Tucson area. If successful, there is the ability to replicate this program. 

Parents Allied with Children and Teachers for Tomorrow (PACTT), Chicago, IL
Ellen Hughes

Expanding Job Training and Placement Services for Young Adults with Autism – PACTT Vocational Services

The applicant serves children, teens and young adults with severe autism in the Chicago area. It has long operated a job training and placement service for teens with autism, and recently added vocational services for young adults.

Now the applicant seeks to expand its adult division to serve more young adults with autism, provide more working hours, teach new job skills and add new employers to its roster. The applicant currently has six local employers providing work for its teens and young adults. Jobs include office assistant, recycling engineer, restaurant set-up crew, maintenance worker, grounds attendant and food packager.

Young adults already in the program are working more independently and have increased hours and days on the job. They are diligent workers and enthusiastic about the program. The proposal would increase the number of young adults with autism to 8 and will engage 4 new employers; in addition it will expand the number of hours worked for the existing consumers of PACTT vocational services.

Significance for people with autism: This project will expand vocational services for young adults with severe autism in the Chicago area. 

The Cody Center, Stony Brook University, Stony Brook, NY
Shirley Woodward, MSW, Ed.D.

Supported College Program Pilot Semester

The Cody Center is making a request to fund a pilot semester of a supported college program for young persons with autism spectrum and related disorders for freshman and sophomore students at Suffolk County Community College (SCCC) who require social and learning supports to be successful in acquiring academic and vocational skills.

It is an outgrowth of a summer pre-college program on which the Cody Center and SCCC collaborated, and provides the next step necessary for successful postsecondary education of the population of young persons with autism spectrum disorders.

The project provides for a team of part-time staff members specialized in working with transition aged young persons to offer services in a “home base” room at the college, offering academic coaching in time management and study skills, self advocacy, and other skills required to succeed in college, as well as social skills training, vocational exploration and community internships.

This partnership makes accessible a public community college education with its affordable price to students with autism spectrum disorders, for whom the disability services office is not able to provide the more intensive services required by this population of young persons.

The pilot semester will enroll four to six young persons who meet the normal admission requirements of college but whose high school or college experience to date has indicated that they will not succeed unless additional services are available to help them transition to the independence and behavioral expectations of the college setting.

Significance for people with autism: This program provides the supports necessary for individuals with autism to participate in a college program. If successful, there is the ability to replicate this program.

Via of the Lehigh Valley, Bethlehem, PA 
Corey Smith, MS

Customized Employment

Via of the Lehigh Valley is a community employment program that works with individuals with significant disabilities to become employed in their home communities. The applicant recently completed a successful NISH-sponsored Customized Employment grant which increased their skills, produced many successful Customized Employment outcomes and helped increase their general community employment success rate over the past year by over 38%.

In addition, Via of Lehigh Valley is a mentor agency for the Labor Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP)’s Employment Start initiative. One of the challenges with Customized Employment implementation is the needed focus on getting better at supporting the individuals with autism in the workplace and the staff time necessary to research and cultivate greater numbers of partnering resources.

Via is proposing to work with six customers and their “people” to create additional positive outcomes and further increased systems change. The proposal is seeking funding to cover one half of the salary for one dedicated Customized Employment coordinator to facilitate even greater success for one year. Through the use of the discovery process, creating creative employment scenarios and increasing partnerships, Via will advance the employment of people with autism. 

Significance for people with autism: With this funding Via of Lehigh Valley will have the resources to customize employment opportunities for individuals with more significant levels of autism. There is the opportunity for best practices and replicable practices for other agencies.

Identified area of need – Equipment and Supportive Technology

Chesapeake Public Schools/ Deep Creek High School, Chesapeake, VA
Laurie Metzger M.S. Ed. 

Connecting Through Training and Technology

This project aims to better serve the elementary and secondary students with autism spectrum disorders at Chesapeake Public Schools. At the elementary level, the applicant will acquire Boardmaker 6 Plus computer software for 19 elementary ASD classes.

Teachers will be trained in the use of the software, which will enable both teachers and students to quickly produce visual supports and to interact with them electronically. At the secondary level, the applicant will institute a program to both enhance social skills and reduce bullying. Training materials will be purchased to enable secondary ASD staff (teachers, paraprofessionals and personal assistants) to implement a social skills curriculum, and to educate general education teachers and students about students with ASD.

Significance for people with autism: This program will benefit students with autism in the Chesapeake Public Schools. Elementary students will gain computer visual aids. Secondary students will gain a social skills curriculum, and will benefit from autism awareness training received by general education teachers and students

Heartspring, Wichita, KS
Miah Schneider

Augmentative and Alternative Communication (ACC) Library

The applicant is requesting funding for an Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) Library. Establishing a library of devices that can be used to help Heartspring students improve their ability to communicate and interact with the world and to lead a more independent life.

The AAC Library will primarily benefit Heartspring School which is a residential and day school with current enrollment of 48 students from 13 states. Approximately 90% of Heartspring’s students are diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder. Many students are nonverbal and one of the first steps in giving the children the skills they need to become more independent is to establish a communication system that they can use to interact with others.

Because of each child’s unique situations, each child needs a communication system that will meet their individual needs. To find the right system for each child, it is often necessary to try several different AAC devices before finding the right “fit” for that child.

Establishing an AAC Library at Heartspring will result in expediting the process of finding the best way to give the child the ability to communicate. The outcome will be an increased number of children receiving AAC assessments, expediting the process for school districts and parents to provide them with the appropriate devices. Additionally, the AAC Library will be unique to this region as it will serve as a resource center for educators and parents and as a possible trial site for new devices. 

Significance for people with autism: This project will provide a library of AAC devices so that students at the Heartspring School will be able to increase their communication skills. In addition, they will open the library to school districts and individuals in the area so that they can have the opportunity to find an AAC device that can best meet each child’s needs. 

Metro West Learning Center, Clive, IA
Toni Merfeld M.S. Ed.

Project STILL (Sensory Trial Intervention Lending Library)

Sensory intervention has a number of benefits for children with autism, including increasing focus, decreasing anxiety and reducing the need for self-stimulation. This project will create a lending library of sensory therapy materials for trial use by children with autism in the Des Moines area.

Children will be able to use the materials free of charge at home, at school and in programs offered by the applicant, which provides social language groups and preschool services for children with autism. Through the lending library, parents will be able to try out different sensory therapy materials to see what works for their child without taxing family resources. The lending library will also permit the applicant to serve some families who might not otherwise have access to occupational therapy equipment.

The applicant does not currently employ an occupational therapist, but plans to add one to its staff in the future. In the near term, the project will be supported by staff including two speech pathologists and two special educators.

Significance for people with autism:This program will provide children with autism in the Des Moines area with an opportunity to try out different sensory therapy materials free of charge. 

Autism Project of Palm Beach County, West Palm Beach, FL
Pamela Minelli 

Project Lifesaver – Palm Beach County

Project Lifesaver provides technology that permits individuals with ASD and Alzheimer’s to be located quickly, should they wander and become missing. The program has been implemented in 41 states, with a 100% success rate in locating wandering individuals. Average search time is 30 minutes.

This project will help implement Project Lifesaver in Palm Beach County, Florida. It will require: the purchase of 300 transmitter packages for participants, the purchase of equipment for 20 canine cars and 2 helicopters, the training of 300 families and caregivers, the training of 15 volunteers to replace batteries once a month, and the training of 25 law enforcement officials.

This project will help law enforcement locate missing individuals with ASD and Alzheimer’s more effectively, and will give families and caregivers increased confidence in the safety of their loved one.

Significance for people with autism: This project provides technology that will enable law enforcement officers in Palm Beach County to readily locate individuals with autism who wander and become lost. 

Identified area of need – Recreation/Community Activities

Acting Antics, Morgantown, PA
Cindy Schneider 

Developing Social Cognition Through Theater

The basic premise of Acting Antics is to use live theater as a means to teach social cognition skills. Students participate in theater games, improvisation activities designed to develop the reading of non-verbal cues, build confidence and stimulate appropriate interaction. Actors participate in short scenes with a partner, in which they must take on the persona of a particular character. Development of that scene requires taking the character’s perspective, and provides great opportunity to teach this difficult skill in a fun and non-threatening manner.

Six of the twelve Chester County school districts are using the “Acting Antics” program as part of an Extended School Year option. This grant would provide the necessary resources to assist Acting Antics to bring direct instruction of the program to additional school districts during the school year, modeling the techniques and gathering data. To train special educators in the school districts in the techniques, and to provide ongoing consultation for the trained educators in the school district. 

Significance to people with autism: This program provides social skills training to individuals with autism in a fun environment. This program has the ability to be replicated.

Bergenfield Public School District, Bergenfield, NJ
Katherine Mancuso

Not Far from Par Golf Program

Last summer, the applicant, a school district, organized “Not Far from Par,” a summer golf program for 16 middle and high school students in Bergen County, New Jersey. Based on feedback from parents, students, and the community, the program was a resounding success.

Students improved communication, social and physical skills, and formed closer bonds with peers, siblings and parents. The community at large was introduced to the idea that children with autism can be successfully educated within the community. This project will expand the golf program for next summer to a minimum of 32 students.

In addition, the golf program will offer a training program for general and special education teachers, both to help teachers interact more effectively with students on the autism spectrum, and to encourage other New Jersey schools to begin similar programs.

Significance for people with autism: This project will double the size of a summer golf program (at a minimum) in Bergen County that successfully taught students with autism in a community setting. Through a teacher training program, it is hoped that other schools will be inspired to launch similar programs. 

Garden State Discovery Museum’s Center for Learning, Cherry Hill, NJ
Coniqua Abdul-Malik 

Open Arms: Support for the ASD Community

Children’s museums aim to further the growth and development of children through hands-on learning, make-believe play and social interaction. Children with autism may miss out on these benefits because they cannot tolerate crowds, or because their families wish to avoid the unwanted attention and comments that the child’s behavior in public may provoke. This program arranges exclusive events for children with autism and their families at the Garden State Discovery Museum so that the children can benefit from the museum in a safe, friendly and understanding environment. On Family evenings, the museum is open exclusively for children on the autism spectrum and their parents, siblings and caregivers. On ‘Rents and Sibs evenings, parents hear speakers on topics from eating habits to speech development, while siblings enjoy a support group involving crafts, games and discussion. 

Significance for people with autism: This program opens the Garden State Discovery Museum to children with autism for exclusive events, and includes programs for their parents and siblings. It will also serve as a way for individuals with autism to become more familiar with the museum, and eventually be able to participate during regular operating hours. This is a program that could be replicated at other museums throughout
the country.

Judson Center, Royal Oak, MI
Shelia Gaskell, J.D. 

PALS (Peer Assisted Lunch Social)

Children and teens with autism often do not receive the kind of social skills support they need. To address this issue, the applicant, a provider of services to individuals with autism and their families in the Detroit area, will bring social skills intervention and staff training to ten local schools (elementary, middle and high schools) for one year.

The intervention, a “Peer Assisted Lunch Social,” will use the research-based model of “integrated play groups” to integrate students with autism with their typically developing peers. School staff members will be trained in this method by the applicant, so that they will be able to continue the intervention without assistance by the end of the year.

Significance for people with autism: Students with autism at ten Detroit area schools will have an opportunity to feel a sense of belonging. Peers will learn about autism, and school staff will interact more effectively with students affected by autism. This is a program that can be replicated.

Kids Enjoy Exercise Now (KEEN), Washington, DC (San Fran., LA, St. Louis, NYC, Phoenix)
Karen Nemsick 

Recreational Programs for Children and Young Adults with Autism Spectrum Disorders

Kids Enjoy Exercise Now (KEEN) provides recreational and sports programs for children with disabilities. At least 80% of the athletes who participate in KEEN programs are diagnosed with autism spectrum disorders.

Kids with disabilities are at greater risk of leading isolated and sedentary lives. KEEN will match kids with volunteer coaches who help them to be the athletes they aspire to be – kickballer, bowler, swimmer, runner, dancer, tennis player, whatever they want to do. KEEN sessions are non-competitive, flexible, and always free-of-charge. Programs are located in facilities that have access to public transportation.

In addition, KEEN sessions take place primarily on Saturdays and Sundays. A Saturday or Sunday session allows a KEEN athlete to get out of the house and be physically active. It also provides much appreciated weekend respite to the athlete’s parent or caregiver.

KEEN currently operates six locations throughout the country and this grant will provide some of the funding needed for additional locations in Los Angeles, San Francisco, St. Louis, New York City, and Phoenix.

Significance for people with autism: KEEN sessions provide an inclusive recreational opportunity where athletes with disabilities interact with non-disabled coaches. This grant will provide with funding to continue to expand the program to new cities.

Mid-Island Y Jewish Community Center, Plainview, NY
David Rosner 

Aspire – A Camping Experience

Aspire is a pilot summer camp program, in collaboration with Variety Child Learning Center, using the natural environment for children with autistic tendencies to learn and to be included with their peers.

The program will include 20 children across the spectrum, and facilitate inclusion. The components of the program will include a “train the trainer” model, which is based on adult learning theory, which states that people who train others remember 90% of the material they teach, and diffusion of innovation theory, which states that people adopt new information through their trusted social networks.

Thus the Train the Trainer Project first develops a cadre of skilled community-based trainers, who in turn train others in their community or within an organization.

More specifically, this proposal seeks to develop a pilot preschool program for children with autism spectrum disorders as well as to expand an existing summer camp for school age children and young adults by providing more inclusive experiences.

Significance for people with autism: This program will provide inclusion opportunities by trained staff in a summer camp program for children from pre-school to pre-teen ages. 

Northeast DuPage Special Recreation Association, Addison, IL
Marne Fox

Camp Exploration

Camp Exploration will serve approximately 12-15 children with autism spectrum 
disorder, 5 days per week for 7 weeks, beginning in June 2008. Due to the multi-sensory needs and cognitive levels of this population, there was an observed and expressed need by staff and parents to plan programs exclusively for the autistic population.

This exclusive program will give these children a more structured environment during the summer months, which provides continuity from school year to school year.

Camp Exploration will give children with autism spectrum disorders the opportunity to experience community outings (museum tours, zoo visits, water park exploration, library visits), in-house activities (arts and crafts projects, interactive play, cooking), 
as well as art and music therapy. 

Significance for people with autism: Camp Exploration will provide a day camp experience for 12 – 15 children with autism for 7 weeks. They will be provided community activities as well as day camp activities. 

YMCA Camp Manitou-lin, Middleville, MI 
Kristin Dart, MS, PT

Weekend Respite Services for Young Adults with Autism in a Camp Setting

Young adults with autism need opportunities to feel independent and spend time with peers, while their families need a break from caregiving.

To meet these needs, YMCA Camp Manitou-Lin will provide 10 weekends of respite care in the camp setting for 20 young adults with autism spectrum disorder, aged 19-26. Camp weekends will be offered once a month, from January through October 2008, from Friday evening to Sunday afternoon. Campers will enjoy recreational activities including hiking, horseback riding, archery, and the like, as well as hayrides and campfires. Activities will be adapted to each camper’s needs.

Campers will stay in heated, carpeted cabins with restrooms and showers. All meals and supplies will be provided. The camp will be staffed with counselors and volunteers in the campers’ age range, at a ratio of two campers for every counselor/volunteer. During meals and activities, campers will interact with other camp groups of typically developing peers. Campers will pay $20 per weekend, with all other fees to be funded by this grant.

Significance for people with autism: 20 young adults with autism will get to go away to camp for 10 weekends. They will enjoy independence, recreation and social interaction, while their families enjoy some respite. 


Autistic people have fought the inclusion of ABA in therapy for us since before Autism Speaks, and other non-Autistic-led autism organizations, started lobbying legislation to get it covered by insurances and Medicaid. 

ABA is a myth originally sold to parents that it would keep their Autistic child out of an institution. Today, parents are told that with early intervention therapy their child will either be less Autistic or no longer Autistic by elementary school, and can be mainstreamed in typical education classes. ABA is very expensive to pay out of pocket. Essentially, Autism Speaks has justified the big price tag up front will offset the overall burden on resources for an Autistic’s lifetime. The recommendation for this therapy is 40 hours a week for children and toddlers.

The original study that showed the success rate of ABA to be at 50% has never been replicated. In fact, the study of ABA by United States Department of Defense was denounced as a failure. Not just once, but multiple times. Simply stated: ABA doesn’t workIn study after repeated study: ABA (conversion therapy) doesn’t work. 

What more recent studies do show: Autistics who experienced ABA therapy are at high risk to develop PTSD and other lifelong trauma-related conditions. Historically, the autism organizations promoting ABA as a cure or solution have silenced Autistic advocates’ opposition. ABA is also known as gay conversion therapy.

The ‘cure’ for Autistics not born yet is the prevention of birth. 

The ‘cure’ is a choice to terminate a pregnancy based on ‘autism risk.’ The cure is abortion. This is the same ‘cure’ society has for Down Syndrome. 

This is eugenics 2021. Instead of killing Autistics and disabled children in gas chambers or ‘mercy killings’ like in Aktion T4, it’ll happen at the doctor’s office, quietly, one Autistic baby at a time. Different approaches yes, but still eugenics and the extinction of an entire minority group of people.

Fact: You can’t cure Autistics from being Autistic.

Fact: You can’t recover an Autistic from being Autistic.

Fact: You can groom an Autistic to mask and hide their traits. Somewhat. … however, this comes at the expense of the Autistic child, promotes Autistic Burnout (this should not be confused with typical burnout, Autistic Burnout can kill Autistics), and places the Autistic child at high risk for PTSD and other lifelong trauma-related conditions.

[Note: Autism is NOT a disease, but a neurodevelopmental difference and disability.]

Fact: Vaccines Do Not Cause Autism.

Explore Autistic History

Explore Autistic History

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