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Old February 7th, 2016, 04:02 AM   #501
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Default 'Agricultural specialisterne': rural employment revolution for those with Autism

The subject of recent posts has mainly been on Autism-related organisations and events in the state of Missouri.

Community Link is a Breese, Illinois-based non-profit whose vision is to see people with developmental disabilities and other difficulties, live and participate in a community that values their presence and contributions. Community Link’s First Step Early Learning and Family Support Program includes Early Intervention, which is a state funded program of services for children with developmental delays or disabilities, and Early Head Start, which is a federally funded program of prenatal services and children’s home-based services...
Quote:
It's lunchtime at the Lenzini household, and 3-year-old Ben is ready and doing his happy dance.
His mother, Contessa, sets down the plate in front of him.
"Blue square!" Ben says, pointing to the plate.
"Green," he says, pointing to his fork.
"Red," he chimes again, this time pointing to the ketchup.
Lunchtime wraps up, and Ben grabs some blocks, carefully matching each according to color.
"He does this with everything," Contessa says with a smile. "He knows all his shapes, colors, and alphabet and can count up to 14."
Had someone told Contessa her little boy would be gleefully naming everything in sight today, she would've thought it impossible. Ben has autism, and it wasn't until about six months ago that he even started talking.
At 20 months, Ben was nonverbal, made no eye contact, and had angry and sometimes violent behaviors. Contessa was recognizing these behaviors as signs of autism, but everyone that she turned to told her "he is a typical 2-year-old."
With no family support, and feeling like everyone was against her, Contessa began to think there was no hope for her son. Unwilling to give up, she came looking for answers and help for her son at United Way supported Community Link. Just as Contessa suspected, Ben was diagnosed with autism, and with the help of Community Link's First Step Early Head Start Learning and Family Support Program, she is more determined than ever to make sure her son succeeds and lives a normal life.
Through the program, which provides early, continuous, intensive, and comprehensive child development and family support services, Ben was able to receive the therapy he needed, and at the age of 3 1/2 years, he has improved majorly in all aspects of development.
Things that were once a daily reality for the family are now becoming a distant memory. Ben used to just throw books, but now loves to read. Before, he would simply giggle when you said his name, but he is now able to identify himself. He was unsure of how to play with other children ...but now is lovable toward everyone and even has a few best friends.
First Step's Parent Educator/Health Services Assistant, Rachel Poettker, met Ben when he joined the program and recalls the struggles they first encountered.
Ben was a challenge when it came to patience and focusing on an activity, which meant "many activities were done at the pace Ben wanted to do them," Rachel said.
But with the help of Contessa, Rachel used a lot of creativity when planning activities. They used flashcards, music, books, role playing and even puppets.
Because of the support and guidance First Step provided, Ben knows that play is a way for him to learn and grow. ...[Ben] is getting much better with using his words and signs. Ben can say two to three word sentences, asks for help to resolve problems and is finally saying 'mommy.' His vocabulary has exploded.
For a typical 3 1/2-year-old, most of these are developmentally appropriate, but for a child with autism, these are daily challenges that can only be achieved with the patient guidance of family, Early Head Start staff and therapists.

...Without United Way support, this outcome may not have been possible. United Way funding enables the First Step program to maintain services families rely on for information, support, and guidance to ensure children, like Ben, reach their full potential...
Here is a link to photos of the First Step Early Learning and Family Support Programs' annual outing from a couple of years ago at Country Kids Pumpkin Patch in Hoyleton, Illinois: https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?...9385680&type=3

(source: Ben's Story)

Last edited by Visionary7903; February 9th, 2016 at 07:36 AM.
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Old February 10th, 2016, 04:44 AM   #502
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Default 'Agricultural specialisterne': rural employment revolution for those with Autism

The subject of the last post was Community Link, a Breese, Illinois-based non-profit whose vision is to see people with developmental disabilities and other difficulties, live and participate in a community that values their presence and contributions. Community Link's First Step Early Learning and Family Support Program includes Early Intervention, which is a state funded program of services for children with developmental delays or disabilities, and Early Head Start, which is a federally funded program of prenatal services and children's home-based services.

Staying in the St. Louis metropolitan area, ADAPT4Autism is a Belleville, Illinois-based nonprofit that provides services and programs for children and families affected by Autism. ADAPT4Autism (Autism Demands Adaptive Pro-social Training) was founded about six years ago by Chris Gibson, an educator of children with Autism. Numerous programs have been developed, including summer and winter day camps for children 5 years of age and older, all aimed at improving the overall quality of life for those on the Autism Spectrum...
Quote:
Standing in front of 32 children with autism, Chris Gibson patiently gives instructions for their field trip to Purina Farms in Gray Summit. Gibson calls the children her "kiddos."
"Our big challenge is when we're in a big group like this," said Gibson. "The noise level can be really intense and some of them and some of them have sensory needs, so they're overstimulated easily, so the biggest challenge is keeping everybody focused on the activities around them."
As predicted, one of the campers had to go outside to calm down from too much noise and stimulation near the dairy cows.
"He's not a real verbal kiddo, so he can't say to us 'it's hurting my ears, it's too loud', so he shows us by covering up and hitting at us. We'll take him for a walk, get a drink, relax him, and then he'll be able to come back and participate some more," said Gibson.
You might think the autism instructor for Belleville District 118 would need some time off during the summer.
"Some days are tough," said Gibson. "It's not always easy, but it's not only great for the child but it's great respite for the families at home. You can't just call a babysitter and say 'Hey, can you come over?' These are tough kids. You need somebody who's trained to handle that sort of behavior."
Gibson recognized several years ago, there were few summer activities for children with autism in Belleville and southwestern Illinois communities, so she started a summer camp in her back yard.
"Two summers in a row it would be the end of the school year and parents would call me and say 'what can we do this summer? Are there any camps around that we can participate in?" said Gibson.
For the past four years, Gibson has watched her ADAPT4Autism summer camp grow from 10 to 40 children, like Nathan Little.
"I don't have full-fledged autism," said Little. "In fact I have something called Asperger's Syndrome, which sounds like something you shouldn't say on TV. It's basically a place that can help me with my quirks."

...It costs $250 per child for six weeks of summer camp. It's a challenge to pay her staff, yet keep the camp affordable.
"My goal is to keep the program as cheap as possible for the families because we already know that if you have a child on the autism spectrum, the cost to raise that child is six times greater than the cost to raise a typically developing child," said Gibson. "We to this point haven't had to say no. We figure it out. We call different businesses, we call neighbors, we call whoever we think we can call to say 'hey we have a kiddo, they want to participate in the camp. Can you help us out?'"
Despite shaking the money tree to keep the camp affordable, and despite bruises from biting and hitting, said this is what she is meant to do.
"I don't know why this is my gift. but I truly believe that this is my gift, to serve children with autism."...
Here is a link to photos of an ADAPT4Autism summer day camp from four-and-a-half years ago: https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?...9645373&type=3


Last edited by Visionary7903; February 13th, 2016 at 04:03 AM.
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Old February 12th, 2016, 06:14 AM   #503
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Default 'Agricultural specialisterne': rural employment revolution for those with Autism

The subject of recent posts has mainly been on Autism-related events and organisations in the St. Louis metropolitan area.

Great Circle is a St. Louis, Missouri-based non-profit that is one of the most comprehensive providers of behavioural health services in Missouri, the Midwest and beyond. Great Circle’s 'Autism Center for Excellence' offers children with Autism and their families nationally accredited learning support, respite care and around-the-clock supervision when needed...
Quote:
World Autism Awareness Month kicked off April 2 with the Light It Up Blue celebration in which several landmarks around the world displayed blue lights to shine a light on autism awareness.

Locally, awareness of autism is happening at Great Circle. In the fall of 2014, the organization opened a classroom at its school in St. James dedicated to teaching children with autism...

"There were not many options in the area for children with autism to attend programs completely designed around their individual needs," said Richard Hockersmith, director of education.

"Great Circle has a very successful program in St. Louis and thought that area children and families would greatly benefit from a program much closer to home."

The program at St. James has grown to an enrollment of nine students.

The program is evidence-based and serves grade levels from kindergarten...

Facilities include a sensory room, a white room and a life skills room.

Each classroom features smart boards and students use iPads.

Students are referred to the program through their local school districts.

The goals for students are to modify behaviors, improve communication skills and develop social skills that enable children to return to and function successfully in a less restrictive school environment.
Here is a link to a Great Circle public service announcement:


Last edited by Visionary7903; February 15th, 2016 at 12:46 PM.
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Old February 13th, 2016, 04:07 AM   #504
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Default 'Agricultural specialisterne': rural employment revolution for those with Autism

The subject of the recent posts has mainly been on Autism-related events and organisations in the St. Louis metropolitan area.

To the east, Easter Seals Central Illinois is a Peoria, Illinois-based nonprofit that provides services to help children and adults with disabilities and/or special needs, including Autism Spectrum Disorders, as well as support to their families. 'Walk with Me', along with other fundraisers, helps Easter Seals offset the cost of its services...
Quote:
For Amanda Stribling, taking care of her three young children can be a challenge.
Two have autism. Another has speech issues.
“It is really about learning how to balance their structures,” she said Saturday.
Stribling and Rilian, 7, Roran, 5, and Reese, 2, were among about 1,100 people who walked a mile at Walk With Me, an event to support Easter Seals...
“The research says that if you have one child with autism the chances of having another are higher,” said Stribling...

...The event raised about $150,000 for the nonprofit group, which supports children and adults with disabilities and special needs. All of money will be used locally, [said Laura Schoon, manager of comprehensive marketing for Easter Seals Peoria/Bloomington.]
Finnegan Brucker, 2, of Lexington, is one of the children who has been helped. He was born 15 weeks premature and contracted meningitis when he was 6 months old. He lost hearing in his left ear and has had physical and developmental delays, said his mother, Christine Bruckner.
“He is looking very good. The goal is, by the time he's 3, there should be significant improvement,” said the boy's father, Ian Bruckner.
About 30 friends and family members supported Finnegan at the walk.
“We're in a fortunate place where we can afford to help pay (medical bills), but we know there are a lot of people who can't” he said.
“He is just one example of the many, many, many kids that need these services,” added Christine Bruckner.
Easter Seals serves about 1,600 children a year in Bloomington.
“The earlier we can identify a disability and the sooner we can get help, the greater the chances for success,” Schoon said.
“These kids have tenacity and determination. They don't know how to quit,” Schoon said. “It's important to recognize that these kids work so hard every day to reach milestones.”
The organization offers help for those with autism and cerebral palsy, including medical rehabilitation and programs for aquatics, camping and recreation.
Kris Andrews of Bloomington volunteered at the walk with members of Bloomington-Normal Sunrise Rotary Club.
“These kids are the future of our community and we want them to be strong and engaged,” Andrews said.
Here is a link to photos of an Easter Seals Central Illinois' 'Special Evening of Play' from a couple of months ago at the Peoria PlayHouse Children's Museum: https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?...3213668&type=3


Last edited by Visionary7903; February 14th, 2016 at 02:23 AM.
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Old February 14th, 2016, 02:39 AM   #505
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Default 'Agricultural specialisterne': rural employment revolution for those with Autism

The subject of yesterday's post was Easter Seals Central Illinois, a Peoria, Illinois-based nonprofit that provides services to help children and adults with disabilities and/or special needs, including Autism Spectrum Disorders, as well as support to their families. 'Walk with Me', along with other fundraisers, helps Easter Seals offset the cost of its services.

Central Illinois Autism Therapeutic Services is a Charleston, Illinois-based non-profit that provides a summer camp, educational programs, after-school programs and daycare. The organisation began as a summer camp for children with Autism then started providing other activities...
Quote:
A new venture, "Bright Minds School and Day Camp," for children with autism plans to open this month in the former Cornerstone Academy on Illinois Route 16 between Charleston and Mattoon.
The school is the brainchild of Vivian Skelley and her husband, Terry, of Charleston. Mrs. Skelley is a behavior intervention specialist who works with children with autism [from the age of 3.]
"The other hat I wear is early intervention, where I work with children under age 3 who are developmentally delayed," she said.

Skelley has been working in the state-funded early intervention program for 11 years and has noticed that more is needed for the children who turn 3 and age out of the program.
"At 3, they no longer got my services," she said. "The kids with autism might be progressing really well, but that door was shut to them at 3, because the state no longer provided that service."
Skelley found that unacceptable, so she and her husband started Central Illinois Autism Therapeutic Services, a not-for-profit 501(c) organization serving children ...in Coles, Douglas, Shelby and Effingham counties.
They found a building to house the school and day camp...

...Summer camp is held from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. five days a week for kids with autism and other special needs. The hours are designed to help working moms, Skelley said...
For now, summer camp activities include community-based and social activities. "That's a deficit these kids have. They have a problem with social skills and communication," Skelley said.
They also have play groups twice a week, which is not only good for the children, but provides some respite for parents.
"When school starts in the fall, we'll have a preschool and an after-school program, as well. It will still be the same population," she said. "It will be like day care, but they will also get a preschool curriculum. We'll be certified by the state board of education."
Currently, Skelley, who is the program director, said there is also a center director and board of directors.
"That's all until we start hiring teachers, and we can't hire teachers until we know how many students we'll have. Our goal is a ratio of six to one."
The school also will continue to use student volunteers from Eastern Illinois University, many of them from the communication disorders department.
Megan McQueen of Charleston said her son, Conner, 4, attends camp three days a week.
The play groups Conner attends also provide valued down time for his parents

"It helps me find my identity," said McQueen, who is a full-time student, taking classes online. "It actually gives my husband and me a chance just to spend some time together - something we've not had in a very long time."
McQueen said Conner was diagnosed with autism when he was 2.
"But, we were pretty sure what was happening before that," she said. "He paces, he'll fixate on certain things, light attracts his interest, and he'll crawl under tables and look at the angles.
"He also spins things. If you give him a puzzle piece, he'll spin it in his hand."
"He had no speech," McQueen said, "so we started speech therapy and he's doing great with it now. He also had developmental therapy. There are a lot of milestones kids reach on the autism journey."
Skelley said a center-based program has always been the goal for CIATS...

..."You never outgrow autism," McQueen said. "Conner's always going to have what I call little tics, but we think he's high functioning, so I'm trying not to be overly concerned about his future.
"He's not going to be like everybody else; he's going to be who he is, and I'm OK with that."
Here is a link to photos of 'Ocean-themed activities' from a couple of years ago at Bright Minds Educational Programs & Day Camp: https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?...1631579&type=3


Last edited by Visionary7903; February 16th, 2016 at 03:42 AM.
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Old February 16th, 2016, 03:59 AM   #506
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Default Re: 'Agricultural specialisterne': rural employment revolution for those with Autism

The subject of the recent posts has mainly been on Autism-related events and organisations in the state of Illinois.

The Autism Society of McLean County is a Bloomington, Illinois-based non-profit whose mission is too educate and support families with children with autism in McLean County and the surrounding areas. ‎McLean County's Unit 5 School District offers an Autism Camp for children from pre-kindergarten level, where they enjoy swimming, cooking, visits into the community and other activities...
Quote:
...In 1997, autism was added as a federal category for special education, and over the last 10 to 12 years, people have become much more familiar with it. A decade ago, [Illinois State University] offered the first graduate class on autism and resources are available for parents, teachers and the community through ISU’s Autism Spectrum Institute and the state-funded The Autism Project (TAP)...

That, and individual school resources often are cited as reasons people with autistic children move to the area.
“I believe this is due to the work we have done to truly provide for students with autism in our district. It actually has drawn families here because they want their children with autism to be in Unit 5,” said Michelle Lamboley, Unit 5’s director of special education.

...In the 10 years that Laura Dickenson has taught at the camp, she said the goals have been the same — to help students work on their social and language skills, and introduce them to leisure activities.
“About 90 percent of these students wouldn’t choose (community outings or active leisure activities) unless they were put in a position to do so,” she said. “They would pick something more predictable like computer games.”
Going out where the weather, people and situations aren’t predictable could cause them social anxiety, but the experiences with teachers and support staff help them build skills and confidence, she said.

Jacquie Mace, a founder and board member of the Autism Society of McLean County, has seen how her son ...has benefited from autism camp and other services in the community.
“He’s definitely learned more appropriate social skills, community and life skills, like how to use money,” she said.
When her son was first diagnosed at age 3, there were few resources in the community, but the number has grown considerably since then.
Mace passes her experience on.
Cindy Abbott of Carlock attributed much of her son’s quality of life to help they have received from Mace and the autism society, ISU and the camp.
“Without that, he probably wouldn’t be talking,” she said of her son, Ryan, 7, who didn’t begin speaking until he was 4. The Eureka second grader still gets help with sensory ...issues but does well in school...
Here is a link to photos of last year's Autism Society of McLean County Run/Walk at Tipton Park from a few months ago: https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?...9848165&type=3


Last edited by Visionary7903; February 17th, 2016 at 04:54 AM.
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Old February 17th, 2016, 06:38 AM   #507
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Default 'Agricultural specialisterne': rural employment revolution for those with Autism

The subject of the recent posts has mainly been on Autism-related events and organisations in the state of Illinois.

Bright Star Equestrian Center is a Petersburg, Illinois-based non-profit that offers horsemanship and riding lessons to children with disabilities, specialising in Autism Spectrum Disorders. The non-profit's instructors focus on improving self confidence and self esteem and believe that every child has a unique gift...
Quote:
A newly established not-for-profit organization in Petersburg that offers horsemanship and riding lessons to people with cognitive and physical disabilities needs volunteers to help with lessons.

Bright Star Equestrian Centre... offers therapeutic horsemanship plus horsemanship/riding lessons to people with various disabilities, including autism...

Bright Star Equestrian Centre is a collaborative effort that includes Dana and Paul Ingle plus Trisha Nichols.

The Ingles own the organization's barn.

"Paul built the barn for his wife, Dana. She always had horses, and she boarded her horses. It was always her dream to have a quarter horse and have him at her own place," said Nichols, the organization's administrative services director.

"They built the barn with the anticipation that it was going to belong to Dana."

During the barn's construction, Dana thought about sharing the facility.

"I've been friends with Paul for a number of years. I'm also a nurse, so I had called him and said I had heard that they were going to be offering therapy, which actually turned out was not the case," Nichols said.

However, Nichols asked about bringing her then 10-year-old son, Ellis Warren, to the location to introduce him to a horse. Warren, who has Asperger's syndrome, loved his experience meeting a horse.

"We got in the car to come home, and he said, 'You know, Mom. It's the weirdest thing. I never felt like this before, but that horse gets me. He understands me. He knows my thinking,'" said Nichols...

Nichols contacted Dana to pitch the idea of a therapeutic equestrian center.

"If my son is 10 years old and he feels understood for the first time, what about the other children who've never felt understood?" Nichols said.

Bright Star Equestrian Centre promotes the idea that therapeutic horsemanship encourages improvements in cognition, coordination, digestion, following directions, independence, interactions with peers, posture, range of motion, self-esteem and more.

Ceci Maloney is Bright Star's therapy instructor. Maloney is certified with the Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship.

Volunteers are needed for lessons. The spring lesson schedule will start April 26 and 27.

Bright Star's therapy sessions are its main focus, but it also offers lessons for the general public on the weeks therapy sessions aren't held.

"We're working on getting our credentials to become a U.S. Pony Club center. It's for girls and boys," Nichols said....
Here is a link to a video on Bright Star Equestrian Centre:


Last edited by Visionary7903; February 18th, 2016 at 04:55 AM.
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Old February 18th, 2016, 06:19 AM   #508
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Default 'Agricultural specialisterne': rural employment revolution for those with Autism

The subject of the recent posts has mainly been on Autism-related events and organisations in the state of Illinois.

Project Linus is a nonprofit whose national headquarters is located in Bloomington, Illinois. The nonprofit makes blankets for children who are ill, have suffered trauma or are otherwise in need of loving care...
Quote:
The Champaign County Farm Bureau auditorium was alive with the whirr of sewing machines on Friday, as members of the Mahomet unit of the Home and Community Education group banded together with Mahomet 4-H'ers to create unique blankets for local children with autism.
At tables around the perimeter of the room, volunteers leaned over sewing machines, feeding lengths of cotton under the presser foot with the tips of their fingers. Elsewhere, women measured and cut colorful fabric and strips of Velcro, or pinned the layers together.
In between answering questions from volunteers, organizer Elizabeth Michael showed off the finished product. Each lap-sized blanket is made of cotton and divided into six "pockets" with a Velcro closure along two edges. A folded twin-size sheet is placed in each pocket to add weight, and the finished product is about 24 pounds.
HCE members meet several times a year to work on the blankets.
"We found out there's quite a need" for weighted blankets, Michael said, noting that this was the first time that local 4-H'ers have gotten involved with the project.
Linda Tortorelli, coordinator of The Autism Project at the University of Illinois, said that weighted blankets can benefit kids who have trouble with sensory processing, helping them fall asleep quicker and reducing restlessness.
"We see some children who like that deep pressure become calmer and more focused," she said.
HCE donates the finished blankets to The Autism Project and the Champaign-Urbana Autism Network, which give them away in drawings. They also set up a table at the Autism Walk event in the spring.
Tortorelli said that The Autism Project raffles off the donated blankets several times a year, and that they're "super-popular." They're starting to affix labels to the blankets in order to get more organized feedback from users.
But Michael and her fellow volunteers have already gotten positive feedback about how the blankets have helped children...

Tortorelli said that the blankets are also useful in the classroom. Spread across the knees, they encourage students to remain calm and seated.
Michael works with the Central Illinois chapter of Project Linus...
She said that the group welcomes donations of flat bed sheets to use in the blankets. Any size will work (they cut down full-size sheets to fit) and gently used sheets are fine. Donations can be dropped off at the University of Illinois Extension office on Country Fair Drive in Champaign.
"We'll use any flat sheet," Michael said...

The group also accepts donations of materials: cotton fabric sized 36 by 42-45 inches in "kid-friendly" prints or solids, as well as sew-on Velcro fastening.
Michael said that each workday usually produces six to eight finished blankets. She estimated that the group has made over 30 of the blankets over the past several years.
"We're really grateful in the autism community for those weighted blankets," Tortorelli said.
And local volunteers are glad to use their skills to bring comfort to others.
"We'll do anything we can to help the children," Michael said.
Here is a link to photos from the 5th 'Annual Champaign-Urbana Autism Network Walk' from a few years ago, which included weighted blanket donations and raffle: https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?...9592090&type=1


Last edited by Visionary7903; February 18th, 2016 at 06:59 AM.
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Old February 20th, 2016, 08:41 AM   #509
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Default 'Agricultural specialisterne': rural employment revolution for those with Autism

The subject of the recent posts has mainly been on Autism-related events and organisations in the state of Illinois.

The Center for Autism Spectrum Disorders (CASD), located on the campus of Southern Illinois University in Carbondale, Illinois, is a TAP (The Autism Program) partner. The Autism Program (TAP) is a statewide network of nonprofit agencies and universities...
Quote:
Ben Harsy, 5, plays with a dinosaur on a chair in his family's living room in their house...

As his mother, Crystal, sits on the edge of the footstool in front of her son, Ben continues to concentrate on his dinosaur, immersed in his own world.

At 12 months old, Ben said his first word, "bye-bye." He would look at a person and even wave. His vocabulary expanded to "ma-ma" and "dad," but somewhere between 15 and 18 months, development stopped. Ben would no longer make eye contact with anyone except his parents and his grandmother, and even that was a struggle.

When taken out in public, he wouldn't smile. Though he was a happy child at home, when in public, people would remark on his somber demeanor. His mother didn't understand why Ben seemed to be pulling away from the world.

"You could almost start to feel this emotional disconnect," Crystal said.

When he turned 2, Ben was most content on his own; unlike a typical child his age, he wasn't getting into things or causing trouble. He never seemed to seek interaction. When playing with toys, instead of imitating the sounds of cars or racing them around the house, he would line them up in a row.

Crystal said that any time she would suspect there was something wrong, Ben would seem to be fine. However, the red flags piled up until the Harsys could no longer deny them, especially since his speech hadn't developed past a few words.

"The hardest part is when you're doing the research, wondering what it could be," said Brice, Ben's father.

They began early intervention speech therapy, but no one mentioned autism until Ben was almost 3 years old and visited [CASD]...

"I don't think I'm exaggerating when I say it's second to losing your child in death," Crystal said of the change in Ben from the first year of his life to the third.

"It was like his soul was taken away from us and we fight every day to bring him back."

...In Southern Illinois, the Center for Autism Spectrum Disorders is the only option for treatment outside of limited services available in schools or traveling to St. Louis or another metropolitan area.

"We are the place that provides assessment of children with autism, we get the call from the mother or we get the referral from the physician or other service providers," [said Dr. Anthony Cuvo, a professor of behavior analysis and therapy at Southern Illinois University in Carbondale and the director of CASD.]

They also provide a variety of intervention or therapy services, as well as teaching, research and serving as a resource for area schools. If they're lucky, they get the kids at 2 or 3 years old, where early intervention is critical.

After a semester of individual therapy, where staff will get to know the children, their strengths and areas that need work, the children will then be taught basic skills, working one on one and with a group, the goal being full inclusion in a classroom setting.

"We're just lucky to be in the vicinity of a treatment service facility," Crystal said. "These are services that aren't even close to
being widely available."

Ben was originally diagnosed in the moderate range. He had very limited communication skills, some sensory issues, some repetitive behaviors and a limited capacity for social interaction.

"His communication and social interaction have seen the greatest strides," Crystal said. "Both of those areas still have the furthest to go. He's learned to greet people, make eye contact and speak first.

"He's learned to play with kids his own age, appropriately. Before, he just wanted to stay in his own world. He was very content, happy, a loving child - but he did not care to interact with the rest of the world."

...The Harsys believe they did everything new parents were supposed to do; read books on care, took Ben to the doctor and followed every instruction carefully.

"When you start to notice something isn't going right, you feel like you've failed somewhere as a parent," Crystal said. "We still don't know why, so we still wonder what we might have done to make it different."

..."They should be initially concerned about any developmental delay," Cuvo said.

Anomalies parents might notice in motor behavior, language acquisition and social behavior might not be related to autism, but should be brought to the attention of a pediatrician.

"The American Academy of Pediatrics recently came out with a recommendation that children be specifically screened for autism, that this should be part of 'well baby' checks at 18 months and 24 months, that they be screened for autism in addition to the normal developmental screening," Cuvo said.

...For [CASD], Dr. Cuvo would like to see more space and resources to be able to treat more children. However, in a larger sense, the parents need to be empowered.

"What we need is for parents to have the resources so that they can shop for or obtain the kinds of services they need for their
children," he said.

..."One of the things we know is that the parents of children with autism are an extraordinarily strong group," he said...

"Good things are happening nationally in terms of autism and I think that the insurance and funding will follow."

Ben has only been in treatment a short time. At this point, in a casual setting, one would never guess he is autistic.

"I can look back and say it was only two years ago he didn't speak at all," Crystal said. "Now he's kind of like every other typical kid..."

The Harsys worry about Ben's future as any other parent would about their child. They're optimistic because of the growing awareness of autism...
Here is a link to a video, produced by CASD staff, on visiting the dentist for children on the Autism Spectrum:


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Old February 22nd, 2016, 06:53 AM   #510
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Default 'Agricultural specialisterne': rural employment revolution for those with Autism

The subject of the recent posts has mainly been on Autism-related events and organisations in the state of Illinois.

The National Lekotek Center is a Chicago, Illinois-based non-profit that provides an array of services to improve the lives of children with special needs, including Autism Spectrum Disorders, through the utilisation of toys and play. The National Lekotek Center is a division of Chicago's Anixter Center, a provider of educational, vocational, and health care services for individuals with disabilities...
Quote:
Like most 5-year-olds, Nicholas loves to play. But not every toy is fun for Nicholas, who is autistic.

"It's hard to find something just for him. It's pretty aggravating shopping for toys for him, at times," said his mother, Jennifer Navarro. "Some toys that are meant for his age group are too complicated, but some are too simple."

Two years ago, Navarro got some help in finding good choices for Nicholas by consulting a guide compiled by experts at the nonprofit National Lekotek Center and distributed by the New Jersey-based retailer, Toys R Us Inc.

"I thought it was wonderful. I've never seen anything like that before," said Navarro, 32.

The latest version of the free guide will be available Monday at Toys R Us stores and online.

The family, which lives in Naplate, Ill., did not have good luck with items from catalogs aimed at special needs children.

"He's advanced over a lot of those and they don't hold his interest," Navarro said. And Nicholas also wanted to play with toys like those used by his brother, Peyton, 3.

Navarro said the right toys help with the development of Nicholas, an active boy who loves to play outside as well as with laptop computer learning toys such as LeapPad.

"If I gave him a set of blocks, instead of making a building or making a castle, he will line them up from one end of the room to the other," Navarro said, adding that this is typical of many autistic children. Nicholas will also line up other toys, such as miniature cars.

"He doesn't play with them (toys) like other kids," Navarro said, so she has found toys that help him learn to read and speak...

The 85 toys in the guide are sold nationally, with just six available only at Toys R Us stores, said company spokesman Kelly Cullen.

The company is printing 600,000 copies of the "Toy Guide for Differently-Abled Kids," about 100,000 more than last year, and absorbing all costs, which will not be disclosed, Cullen said. Wayne-based Toys R Us started the guide in 1994.

...Each toy in the 52-page guide includes a detailed description of how it can be used, along with icons indicating whether the toy can stimulate development in such areas as creativity, self esteem, vision or hearing.

The guide can be useful to people buying toys for many ...children in the United States who have disabilities...

The [Chicago-based National Lekotek Center], which operates 38 therapeutic play centers in eight states, evaluated some 200 toys over the past nine months to select those included in the guide...

Certified play specialists observe families and children with the toys, and determine which would work, for example, for a child who is blind, or for a child who can't close their hand...

...The criteria include toys that are easy to handle or manipulate, and don't have a "right way" of being used....
Here is a link to photos of the National Lekotek Center hosting Sensory Story Time play groups at libraries in the Chicago metropolitan area: https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?...1818483&type=3


Last edited by Visionary7903; February 24th, 2016 at 03:20 AM.
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