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Old March 5th, 2017, 07:18 AM   #671
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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 Maryland.

The Abilities Network is a Towson, Maryland-based nonprofit whose mission is to challenge the community to acknowledge the value and equality of people of all abilities. This includes children on the Autism Spectrum...
Quote:
Katy Marchman is like any other 10-year-old girl. She's a bright, bubbly blonde who squabbles with her 8-year-old sister, Alex, about clothes. Her mother, Kim, affectionately calls her a 'diva-in-training.'

There's just one difference -- Katy lacks the ability to verbally communicate, due to her diagnosis of Angelman's syndrome, a neuro-genetic disorder that falls on the autism spectrum.

But Kim is quick to point out that Katy's disability is secondary to who she is. "Some families will say, 'Oh the disability is part of the family," but Kate is just one of our three children,' she said. "She's so many other things."

One of the biggest characteristics that defines who Katy is as a person is her love for everything Ravens. "She is a humongous Baltimore Ravens fan," Kim said. "To the point where we're not allowed to say any criticism during the games."

The Marchmans, which includes Katy's father, Mark, and her older brother, Andrew, 17, first discovered Katy's love for football when they visited Ravens training camp 4 years ago. "Matt Stover saw us and Katy got to meet all the players," Kim said. "I had no idea she was going to love it."

Since that day, Katy has visited camp at least four times every summer. She watches every game. She carries around a scrapbook of pictures of her with players like Musa Smith, Mark Clayton, Ray Lewis and Todd Heap.

Katy communicates through hand gestures, body language and pictures of symbols. She often 'writes' letters and cards to her favorite players, and even made a 'Welcome to Baltimore' card for new head coach John Harbaugh.

As part of Katy's daily education, she receives services from [the Abilities Network.]

"With Katy, what they found, was that she responded to everything Ravens," said Lauren Dunn, Abilities Network Director of Development. ?When a child has Angelman's, it helps to work on something they enjoy. When Katy started going to training camp, she got excited, and she responded."

On Monday, the Abilities Network is hosting 'Time Out For Charity,' a benefit event in which the organization's employees, volunteers and consumers get to mingle with Ravens players. Katy is going along for the second year.

"She's knows it's coming, but we can't tell her what day it is, because she will stay up until 1 a.m. the night before," Kim laughed.
Here is a link to a video on an Abilities Network fundraiser from a couple of years ago:

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Old March 8th, 2017, 10:22 AM   #672
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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 Maryland.

The Carroll/Frederick Autism Support Group is a Marriottsville, Maryland-based autism support group with a focus on getting the kids out to play with each other. Middletown Primary School hosts one of Frederick county's 'Challenges' programs that serves the needs of students with Autism and related communication disorders...
Quote:
Parker Langston, 6, can't chat about his day when he arrives home from school.

But after more than a year in Middletown Primary School's 'Challenges' program, he is finally able to communicate his needs and wants instead of crying -- something his mother, Heather, feared he'd never manage.

"They've really taught him how to enjoy being around people," she said.

Challenges uses pictures, sign language, iPads and more to build communication and interpersonal skills in students such as Parker, who have been diagnosed with autism and other severe communication disorders.

The specialized program serves 65 students across six Frederick County public schools: Middletown Primary, Carroll Manor and Middletown elementary schools; Oakdale and Gov. Thomas Johnson middle schools; and Gov. Thomas Johnson High School.

More than 560 students are formally recognized by the school system as having autism, said Dan Martz, special education and psychological services director. Parents choose whether to enroll their child in Challenges based on recommendations by school and special education staff.

...After more than a decade in practice, the Challenges program has fostered greater inclusion and understanding of autism among even the littlest students, teachers said.

In support of Autism Awareness Month, Middletown Primary students on Wednesday formed a human puzzle piece -- a well-known symbol of the complexity and uniqueness of the autism spectrum -- outside the school. Similar celebrations will continue through April at schools countywide.

Educators said hosting Challenges in their buildings makes every day an autism awareness day.

...Unified classes such as peer physical education and art pair Challenges students with first- and second-grade general education buddies as a way to encourage communication to transition into a regular classroom setting.

That interaction builds skills used outside of school as well, Heather Langston said. She said she can now take her son to the park without worrying he may hurt others.

"Peer P.E. taught Parker how to play with other children," she said. "His partner last year was so patient with him and talked him through things as simple as catching a ball."

Budget constraints sometimes limit Challenges teachers from buying new classroom materials or programs, and they are grateful for the support of numerous instructional assistants and speech therapists.

...Langston said the Challenges program's approach and staff-to-student ratio is still overwhelmingly positive. Her son keeps calm thanks to his rigid classroom routine and a daily schedule using pictures, a technique that she now uses at home.

Helping parents create functional lives and the joy of hearing autistic students speak is most rewarding for teachers...
Here is a link to a video from the Carroll/Frederick Autism Support Group: https://www.facebook.com/anna.curtis...type=2&theater


Last edited by Visionary7903; March 29th, 2017 at 09:54 AM.
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Old March 29th, 2017, 10:06 AM   #673
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Post 'Agricultural specialisterne': rural employment revolution for those with Autism

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

The McArdle Center for Early Autism Intervention, based in Stevensville, Maryland, strives to work with children and families with an Applied Behaviour Analysis therapy centered approach. By taking a therapeutic approach to education The McArdle Center teaches children with Autism Spectrum Disorders in a way that best suits them as individual learners...
Quote:
On Sunday afternoon, April 24, Gov. Larry Hogan and his wife ...cut the ribbon to open to the new McArdle Center for Early Autism Intervention, lat 210 Pier One Road, Stevensville. The center is the first of its kind in the Mid-Shore area, providing services for children ages of 2 through 8 diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder, which includes a wide range of symptoms, skills and levels of disability. Symptoms may include difficulty communicating and interacting with others, repetitive behaviors and trouble functioning socially. Children are evaluated as mild, moderate, or severe. The rating provides a guide for how much assistance each child needs to be functional.

There is no cure for autism, and no one know what causes it. However, it has been found that early intervention with intense weekly therapy sessions can reduce the affects of autism tremendously, center founders said.

...Hogan added, "Autism doesn't discriminate. All the resources are here at the McArdle Center to help autisitc children at the most early ages."

The center was founded completely with private funds.

Before Hogan spoke, Sajid Tarar, CEO of the Center for Social Change, addressed the gathering. He praised the work Hogan has done for the state, saying, "He (Hogan) has liberated the state of Maryland, and we're all in good hands." The compliment brought a rousing cheer and thunderous applause from the crowd.

...Gary Mangum of Stevensville followed Tarar, speaking before introducing Hogan. He praised the creation of the center, and then added praise for Queen Anne's County Public Schools for their work with children with special needs.

...Mangum also praised Hogan, saying, I've learned that he (Hogan) is a very good listener, and uses that skill to help him make informed decisions in best governing the state. He genuially cares about people."

The McArdle Center was originally created for the McArdle family?s identical twin daughters, Caitlyn and Riley, now 5 years old. Both are autistic, one more severe than the other. Their parents, Terry and Emily McArdle, moved to Kent Island from Annapolis four years ago, before the girls were diagnoised with autism.

"They moved here because of the positive reputation of the public schools in Queen Anne's County," said Amelia Foxwell, a volunteer at the McArdle Center, who has more than a decade of training working with autistic children. She works with the McArdle girls.

Foxwell added, "This area desperately needs the services of this center. The services needed are not provided at any public schools. Children are born with a pre-dispostion for sutism and may never show it."

Costs for attending the center is $20,000 a year, far more affordable than places on the western shore.

Emily McArdle said, "We looked at many schools in the area. The costs for autism services range from the least expensive at $35,000 a year up to over $60,000. One thing we've learned is autistic children need consistent and constant services, year-round. If they have a two-week vacation, their skills regress. They need consistency."

April was Autism Awareness Month...
Here is a link to a video:


Last edited by Visionary7903; March 31st, 2017 at 11:32 AM.
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Old March 31st, 2017, 11:49 AM   #674
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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 Maryland.

The Arc Baltimore is a Baltimore, Maryland-based nonprofit that is dedicated to providing advocacy and high quality, life-changing supports in Baltimore City and Baltimore County. The nonprofit has partnered with various organisations to give individuals with various challenges, including children with Autism Spectrum Disorders, a 'practice' opportunity to experience the sometimes challenging aspects of airline travel...
Quote:
Tomas Harp, 7, was ready to go to the head of the security line at [Baltimore-Washington International Airport (BWI).]

Not so fast. "Tomas -- that's part of the process, to wait your turn," his mother, Carolina Harp, reminded him.

Soon they handed over their boarding passes. Tomas and his brother, Mateo, 9, were ready to take Southwest flight 1234 from Baltimore at 1:45 p.m. -- a flight that was not actually budging an inch from the gate.

The Harps, from Gaithersburg, were one of 50 families participating on a recent Saturday afternoon in The Arc of Baltimore's Wings for Autism, which provides children with developmental disabilities with a dry run of the process of boarding a plane.

Traveling with children can be stressful for anyone. But for those dealing with children on the autism spectrum, it can be traumatic.

Everything about the process of flying -- from waiting in lines with hundreds of other people to [lots] of strange noises -- can overstimulate such children.

...Volunteers from BWI, Southwest, the Transportation Security Administration and Airmall shepherded families through a special security gate. They boarded the plane, got in their seats, heard the safety spiel and were served pretzels and a glass of water.

Within a half-hour, they were back off the plane.

The fastest little flight to nowhere.

Participating parents said that in general they avoid airports and drive. Harp said she logs a lot of miles when she needs to take her two sons on vacation. Tomas and Mateo have gone on trips to Georgia and Florida.

But this summer the family needs to go to California, and Harp doesn't plan to make that drive...
Here is a link to photos from the 'Wings for Autism' event at Baltimore-Washington International Airport from a couple of years ago: https://www.facebook.com/airmallbwi/...95522694000082


Last edited by Visionary7903; April 7th, 2017 at 01:16 PM.
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Old April 8th, 2017, 12:31 PM   #675
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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 Maryland.

Mt. Washington Pediatric Hospital (MWPH) is a Baltimore, Maryland-based nonprofit specialty children's hospital. MWPH's Autism services include testing and therapeutic services for children suspected of, or already diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorders...
Quote:
"My son is in a place where the people understand and care about him." - Priscila Rodriguez, Mother


Ian, 4, ...was fearful and displayed repetitive behaviors.

His mother Priscila Rodriguez, desperate and confused, wanted answers. Her doctor recommended Mt. Washington Pediatric Hospital (MWPH)'s Pediatric Psychology.

The Division of Pediatric Psychology at MWPH has a full complement of psychologists dedicated to improving the well being of children and adolescents. Each psychologist at MWPH has specialized training in providing a wide range of services to children having behavioral or emotional difficulties.

Staff treat children with conditions [including Autism Spectrum Disorders.] Recommendations are tailored to the specific needs of each child, and psychology providers work closely with the parents, pediatricians, educators, and other mental health practitioners to identify appropriate treatment services for each child.

Ian was diagnosed with moderate-severity autism in May 2015. Through individual and group therapies, plus occupational, physical and speech therapy, Ian is learning to shape his negative behaviors through different play techniques.

...Thanks to group therapy, he can tolerate the structure of school better. He can communicate and show affection to his family. He can sit still longer to complete tasks, and his social skills have improved, too.

Priscila credits his therapists, like Dr. Antonia Girard, for his progress. She says the entire psychology team really cares about Ian; when they come here for therapies, everyone is smiling and happy to see them. "My son is in a place where the people understand and care about him," she says. "I feel so grateful to be here."

Before Ian's therapies, Priscila felt confused because she didn't understand why Ian behaved the way he did. "They've helped me to understand him, to manage him, and learn about his condition, about his behaviors, his fears. He can feel that I can understand him, so that makes him feel better and not as frustrated as before."

"He can feel what I'm feeling. If I get mad, he gets mad. If I feel frustrated, he's going to be worse. So if I can control myself, he's going to be better. And therapies have helped me to be like that."

"As a mother, it has been difficult to accept Ian's condition, but with MWPH it has been easier. I know he's getting better. I know he's in the perfect place for a better life and future."
Here is a link to a video from the Mt. Washington Pediatric Hospital's Autism program from a few years ago: https://www.facebook.com/MtWashingto...1581442577760/


Last edited by Visionary7903; April 10th, 2017 at 02:49 PM.
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Old April 10th, 2017, 03:01 PM   #676
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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 Maryland.

The Autism Spectrum Support Group (ASSG) of Southern Maryland, Inc., is a St. Mary's County, Maryland-based nonprofit that has offers support to families and caregivers of people with Autism Spectrum Disorders. The private forum offers 175 families in Southern Maryland the opportunity to help each other...
Quote:
...According to Autism Speaks, [Autism Spectrum Disorder] refers to a range of conditions characterized by challenges with social skills, repetitive behaviors, speech and nonverbal communication, as well as by unique strengths and differences. The term 'spectrum' reflects the wide variation in challenges and strengths possessed by each person with autism.

Autism's most obvious signs tend to appear between two and three years of age. In some cases, it can be diagnosed as early as 18 months. Some developmental delays associated with autism can be identified and addressed even earlier. Parents are urged to seek evaluation if they have concerns because early intervention can improve outcomes.

Learning that your child has [Autism Spectrum Disorder] can be devastating to parents. They feel upset, scared, concerned and alone. Autism isn't the same for any two children. Some children have high-functioning autism--others suffer from a more severe form of the neurobehavioral condition. There is not one autism but many types, caused by different combinations of genetic and environmental influences. No matter the level of autism your child is dealing with, it can be a lonely place for parents. But it doesn't have to be.

...There are four main goals of ASSG:
1. To support families directly impacted by [Autism Spectrum Disorders]
2. To educate families and the community on issues related to [Autism Spectrum Disorders]
3. To raise public and professional awareness and acceptance of [Autism Spectrum Disorders]
4. To work in partnership with other organizations to inform and educate families and the community about issues related to [Autism Spectrum Disorders]

ASSG wants parents to know, they're not alone in their struggles. "We try to eliminate the feelings of isolation families may have when raising a child with [Autism Spectrum Disorders.] We offer a judgment-free environment for families to discuss issues and ask questions. We also encourage families to help other families by sharing information and support, and to stay focused on supporting families on a local level," [Terri Griest, president of ASSG, said.]

Autism is often a very misunderstood disorder. People with [Autism Spectrum Disorders] are affected in every aspect of their life. Griest explained, "[Autism Spectrum Disorders] may cause behaviors that the uninitiated may find perplexing, disrespectful, scary, bizarre or incomprehensible. People's responses often lead them to withdraw, to judge, to become angry, or to offer unsolicited 'advice' on parenting." But with those struggles comes great gifts. The ASSG works to eliminate the stigma associated with people with [Autism Spectrum Disorders]. "Knowledge is key," Griest noted.

ASSG always encourages new members to join. The group meets the third Wednesday of the month from 6:30 p.m.-8:00 p.m. ...There are 'sister' groups in Charles and Calvert counties.

...During Autism Awareness Month, ASSG is participating in and promoting several activities around Southern Maryland to bring more awareness to this community--

World Autism Awareness Day is April 2. Autism Speaks promotes "Light It Up Blue" on that day. People around the world light up buildings with blue lights, and everyone is encouraged to wear blue in support of autism awareness.

Personalized Therapy's 10th Annual Autism Awareness Day. April 8 from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m...
...All funds raised go to local organizations that help people with autism, including the Autism Spectrum Support Group of Southern Maryland...
Here is a link to photos: https://m.facebook.com/pg/AutismSupp...ernal&mt_nav=1

(source: - Page Not Found)

Last edited by Visionary7903; April 11th, 2017 at 12:08 PM.
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Old April 12th, 2017, 12:50 PM   #677
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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 Maryland.

The 'Cumberland Tri-State Autism Walk', is an annual Autism awareness event and fundraiser located in Cumberland, Maryland. The walk has has grown beyond what the founder of the event could have ever hoped for...
Quote:
On a cold, blustery day in Cumberland, Maryland, 1,200 people looped the track at Allegany College for the ninth annual Cumberland Tri-State Walk Now for Autism Speaks event on Saturday, April 9, 2011. Walk Chairperson, Marcy Hardinger led the opening ceremonies with special thanks to all Walk participants who came far and wide to enjoy the festivities of the day and support the urgent mission of Autism Speaks. Logan Farris joined Marcy to cut the ribbon and start the Walk!

Walkers enjoyed the 10 Toys that Speak to Autism from Walk Now for Autism Speaks National Sponsors--Toys'R'Us and Babies'R'Us, ...face painting, autism race car and balloons galore! The Cumberland Times-News and radio sponsors WTBO and GO106FM were on hand to capture the events of the day. Special thanks to DJ Express for energizing the crowd and Kirsten Dixon photography for the beautiful team photos!

It was a record-breaking year for Cumberland with $64,000 raised to date with the total expected to exceed $70,000! This tremendous success is due to the hard work and dedication of each volunteer, walker, team member, team captain, sponsor and in-kind donor. Many, many thanks to Walk planning committee for all of their efforts year after year to organize and implement the Walk in Western Maryland.

A very sincere and heartfelt thank you to Marcy Hardinger. [Hardinger's determination] to better the life of [those] affected by autism in the Cumberland community is truly inspiring.

THANK YOU CUMBERLAND for your continued commitment to changing the future for all who struggle with autism spectrum disorders. Autism Speaks and Cumberland is listening!!!...
Here is a link to a video from the 'Cumberland Tri-State Autism Walk' from three years ago:


Last edited by Visionary7903; April 15th, 2017 at 09:17 AM.
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Old April 15th, 2017, 09:27 AM   #678
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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 Maryland.

The Kinera Foundation is a Stevensville, Maryland-based nonprofit that seeks to enhance the quality of life for those affected affected by various challenges, including children with Autism Spectrum Disorders. The Kinera Foundation does this by providing social activities, access to various therapies and treatments, while continuing to support inclusive programs...
Quote:
When the Allender family drives along Ritchie Highway, 7-year- old Kellen motions to a Severna Park carnival.
"He always points at this like he wants to come," his mother Becky says. "We never wanted to come because of the crowds. He has problems standing in line."
Kellen has been diagnosed with autism, which limits where the family can enjoy some entertainment. Before Wednesday, the Millersville family had never been to a carnival.
But during an hour-long session minus the crowds and noise, Kellen got a chance to take a twirl on the "Candy Swings" at the Earleigh Heights Carnival.
Parents of special-needs children and their siblings enjoyed the sensory-sensitive version of the event thanks to the Kinera Foundation.
There was no loud music, and a limited number of flashing lights. About a dozen children took turns on the teacups, the tilt-a-whirl ...as parents cheered them on.
[Ms.] Russell, of Kent Island, started the foundation, which provides support to parents of children with special needs. Russell launched Kinera to help her autistic 4-year-old-son and to give other families a chance to have fun and be part of the community.
She said kids with special needs often balk at such events.
It's "too much, the light, the noise - it's overstimulating," Russell said. This event gives "these families an opportunity to see if their child can handle it."
Another parent testing out the waters was Beth Jensen, of Annapolis, whose 7-year-old son James also is autistic.
Jensen said while the family has tried trips to Sesame Place in Pennsylvania, they've had to leave movies and ball games because of the large crowds.
Still, Jensen said the family wants to go to an amusement park on a larger scale: Hersheypark.
"Something like this gives us an idea if that could be something we could do down the line," Jensen said as James took two trips down the Surfin' Slide.
Here is a link to a video from the Kinera Foundation: https://www.facebook.com/KineraFound...7102719017878/


Last edited by Visionary7903; April 16th, 2017 at 09:41 AM.
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Old April 22nd, 2017, 01:25 PM   #679
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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 Maryland.

Independent of Autism (IOA) is a Hampstead, Maryland-based nonprofit that serves everyone from newly diagnosed to the whole family including siblings and grandparents of individuals with Autism.
Quote:
Anna Curtis, of Hampstead, will graduate from Towson University with a post baccalaureate certificate in autism studies in December and an individualized master's degree in autism in May. But when her studies led her to discover a need within Carroll County, she didn't want to wait until graduation to do something to make a difference.

"...[Children with disabilities] age out when they graduate and get their high school diploma or certificate. All the services they were getting from the state drop off across the board. We didn't really have much out there for [this transitioning group]." [Curtis said.]

Curtis, who is in her third year of graduate school at Towson University, started the nonprofit Independent of Autism to help people with autism who are in that transitioning age group. She said she has been working on the project for almost a year but received 501(c)3 status in January. Since its inception, the organization has served 66 families, and currently provides social groups and social skills training, one-on-one social assistance, life skills and transitioning age assistance. Future plans are to include support groups for siblings and grandparents, therapy scholarships, free workshops, and additional transition age programming.

"I really wanted the individuals we serve to one day be independent of autism," Curtis said. "They will always carry the autism diagnosis, but we want to see them able to live on their own, have a job, and have plenty of supports in place. It is to help them get into a home on their own and to help them get jobs if they can."

Curtis said she has been providing social skills to groups in Howard County through the Howard County Autism Society for a year, with clients ranging in ages from 11 to 23.

Even before Curtis started Independent of Autism, she volunteered in the field.

"I volunteer with the Special Olympics of Carroll County and I started the Young Athletes program in Carroll County," Curtis said. "Except for two, all of my athletes [last year] were on the autism spectrum somewhere. I do this for the love of families and the individuals I meet."

The Young Athletes Program within the Special Olympic program is for children age 2 to 7 with intellectual, developmental, and closely related disabilities.

Deborah Mills, of Columbia, said she is pleased with the work Curtis is doing with her 18-year-old daughter, Racquel. She found out about Curtis through the Howard County Autism Society.

"She is so good with them," Mills said of Curtis. "Some kids don't want to be social at all but she really tries to involve them. She asks them questions and listens to them. She talks to these kids like she would to anyone else and you can tell she is interested in everything they have to say."

Mills said the work Curtis is doing is making a difference for her daughter.

"Last week they went bowling. They go to movies. They had a post office outing and they go to stores and do training on making purchases. They do all kinds of life skills training," Mills said. "There are usually about eight [clients] in her group and she has about four or five volunteers as well. I never worry."

One of the things Mills said makes her happy is seeing her daughter form friendships within the group. She said some children on the autism spectrum have no desire to be social, but Curtis brings them out of their shell.

"Oh my goodness, my daughter really looks forward to this," Mills said of the outings. "Now Racquel has something to do on the weekend like any other teenager. She's made real friends and one [close friend] she even calls on the phone and she went to her birthday party. It is a beautiful thing to see."

Michael Thomas, of Hampstead, is a board member for Independent of Autism.

"I worked with her with Special Olympics," Thomas said of their connection. "She was running the Young Athlete's program and I was a coach in the soccer skills program and the basketball skills program for Special Olympics. We hope to see an increase in the amount of children and teenagers that we are helping, especially in the social skills group."

When asked why he agreed to become a board member, Thomas said he closely understands what their clients are going through.

"I am on the autism spectrum, too," he said. "I didn't have social skills when I was in school. I picked up on them over the years by watching others. They didn't teach those skills in school that you need to get around and for a job. I left Baltimore County schools when I was young because I couldn't advocate for myself. It is important, [for those with autism] to be able to advocate for their selves. They get that from [the programs at Independent of Autism]."

Thomas said that after his move to the Howard school system he adjusted and he now works in transportation in Howard. The work Curtis is doing through Independent of Autism is important, he said.

"A lot of the schools still don't teach social skills. If they are not getting these skills they don't know how to go in the world or relate to their peers," he said.

Curtis agreed.

"Even if it is just a listening ear, we want to help. Working on social skills seems to be my calling. My undergraduate degree is in early childhood education and I've always been child-oriented. I've always wanted to help kids and now it has rolled around to help parents, grandparents and siblings, too. Sometimes it is the parents who need a listening ear, someone to offer support, encouragement or help finding a speech pathologist or extra services. I have also had calls to, 'Come speak with my child.' I think they know their child knows me and respects me and trusts me," she said.

Independent of Autism also recently worked with the corollary soccer program in Carroll County, providing shin guards and soccer socks to the North Carroll Soccer Club for two teams -- a total of 22 to 24 kids. Because several participants in the program have learning disabilities, the initiative fit with the organization's mission. In addition, the nonprofit has also partnered with Carroll Community College to help college students get service learning hours when it is required by specific classes.

Curtis said she started a GoFundMe account last year to raise funds for Independent of Autism.

"Those funds helped me go to the Kennedy Krieger Institute last year for a conference and helped fund some office supplies and to apply for the 501(c)3 [status], which was $400. That about wiped us out. But I have sponsors in the community now and family sponsors. We are working our way up so we can do more," she said.

Curtis said raising funds for the organization has been a family affair. Her mother, Ruth Colson, sews, and Curtis' husband, Joe, makes dog collars out of fabric that they sell to raise funds.

"She's made tote bags, pillows, aprons, headbands and tea towels," Curtis said of her mother. "They have been purchased by families we serve and professionals in special education and we have some for sale on our website."

Mills said Curtis is a "wonderful person and is great with the kids." She said the organization is "something to see."

But for Curtis, her main focus is just making a difference, however she can.

"I just want to help," Curtis said. "Families need support. Grandparents need support and siblings need support. Everyone needs support. I feel lucky that I am able to help."...
Here is a link to a video: https://www.facebook.com/pg/autisman...ernal&mt_nav=1

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