Focus on Strategies for Anxiety at Annual Conference

 

Holly Moses.jpg

The Autism Society of North Carolina held its annual conference March 24-25 in Charlotte. We will be sharing information from conference presentations in upcoming blog posts.

Holly Blanc Moses, a Board Certified Behavior Analyst, Licensed Professional Counselor, and Licensed Psychological Associate, gave a presentation titled “Autism and Anxiety: Strategies that Work” on the second day of the conference. Ms. Moses began by reminding her audience that everyone experiences anxiety at some point in their lives and listed several indicators: rigidity, oppositional behavior, unresponsiveness to reason, excessive emotional reaction, resistance to transition, excessive avoidance of harmless events/objects, excessive need to control others or the environment, confusion, frustration, and frequent question-asking. Anxiety can even manifest in physical symptoms including shortness of breath, rapid heart rate, muscle tension, headaches, and stomach pain.

It is estimated that up to 40 percent of individuals with autism may have a co-diagnosis of anxiety that can worsen their social challenges, increase their challenging behaviors, and generally reduce the scope of the world in which the person with autism interacts. Individuals with autism will usually have difficulty communicating their anxiety. As a result, their caregivers will often misinterpret their anxiety as bad behavior, applying labels such as “defiance” or “aggression.” Attempts to discipline the “bad behavior” will likely lead to one of three unproductive responses: avoidance or escape, fighting back, or shutting down.

The triggers for anxiety in individuals with autism are what Ms. Moses labels “heavy stuff”: expectations to tolerate difficult moments, to be social, to do homework, to please teachers and parents, to maintain self-care and complete chores; as well as unexpected changes. A patient of hers described his reaction to the heavy stuff as “I feel like I’m on fire,” and another noted “People like us don’t know how we fit in this world.” The focus of her therapy when working with these individuals is to find ways to lighten the load of the heavy stuff.

Ms. Moses explained that she tries not to minimize what her patients say; she dislikes common counselor questions such as “Is that a big problem or a little problem?” since it all feels “heavy” to these patients. She gave her audience a brief quiz by tossing out simple words and having the audience quickly respond “good” or “bad” to label each word; most found it very easy to identify words such as “happy” as being “good” versus “sad” which is “bad.” But Ms. Moses explained that her patients with autism and anxiety may struggle to apply such simple labels. She tries to work on their terms by keeping two small balls nearby; one is lightweight, soft, and fuzzy; the other is heavy, hard, and wooden. Patients can select a ball to respond to a word she gives by indicating how that word makes them feel, rather than by giving it a good or bad label.

Ms. Moses likes to use the phrase “My brain is telling me a story that…” and encourage patients to finish the sentence. Often the patient chooses a heavy or “stuck” thought such as “everyone hates me” or “I don’t do anything right” or “I stay in my room so I don’t have to monitor so many people” (these are actual responses gleaned from young patients, male and female). Ms. Moses then works to help the patient lighten the load of these heavy thoughts and getting them “unstuck” by helping the patient to interpret their brain story in a more positive way.

Ms. Moses then outlined two cases, beginning with Jack, a 10-year-old with ASD and anxiety who had an intense fear of mascots. Ironically, he loved the concept of mascots and had memorized the mascots associated with major league teams around the country and even talked about becoming one. But his fear meant that his family avoided fun outings such as ball games and had had to constantly surveil stores and restaurants for mascots before taking Jack inside. Jack also avoided social interaction with his peers and a schoolwide reward program. Her plan for Jack was based on social-skills training in session and during lunch and recess at school, systematic exposure to mascots (she emphasized that this type of exposure must be directed by a professional), and a system of rewards (reinforced at home) for school participation. The social-skills training involved four phases beginning with a group of a dozen or so students whom Jack pre-approved; no students knew that Jack was the target of the sessions. Conversation topics were also identified in advance, and students were encouraged to answer questions with short one- to two-word responses. In the second phase, Ms. Moses added some students that Jack didn’t pre-approve and encouraged full-sentence answers. In the third phase, the ratio of known to unknown students was about 50:50, and longer conversations were encouraged (three exchanges per question). Finally, the 50:50 ratio was maintained but the topics were pre-identified only for the first two exchanges; students were instructed to both ask questions and make comments. She tracked Jack’s contribution to each session, which rose from 3% to 70%. Best of all, when the sessions ended, Jack hugged a mascot and attended a sports event with his family that included a mascot.

Dave was a 13-year-old with ASD and anxiety; he dealt with his anxiety by running from the room and had engaged in self-injurious behavior severe enough to lead to multiple hospitalizations. He also had not-so-cool ways to try to engage his peers, such as breaking into a rap song in the middle of class. Ms. Moses’ plan for Dave included trying to make room for what he called his “brain trains” (the “heavy stuff”) by understanding that they will arrive whether we want them or not, and encouraging him to jot down his brain trains to discuss in sessions. She also developed a school behavior plan to include a signal to the teacher requesting a break in the hallway for up to five minutes and two to three daily check-ins with the school counselor. Ms. Moses worked to further educate both the teacher and Dave’s parents about autism; this included training his mother to give more effective instructions, especially for transitions. And finally, Ms. Moses added social-skills training, which encouraged Dave to engage with students with similar interests and helped him learn to be more effective at giving compliments. Over time, Dave made friends, acquired his first girlfriend, and engaged in school activities including Math Olympics, bowling team, football team manager, and theater.

Ms. Moses concluded her presentation with some quick tips, beginning with “Make Time Visual.” Time can be very hard for those with autism to conceptualize leading to complaints such as “This is gonna take forever!” or “Whatta you mean it’s time to quit?” Keep a colorful timer nearby. Another tip is “Make Life Visual” with pictorial (or text as the child ages) schedules, homework goals, reward systems, etc. Praise successes, especially if you notice more calmness with your child in challenging situations. Gradually expose him/her to feared events or objects. Use clear one- or two-step instructions, and always be sure the goals you’ve set are genuinely reachable.

Holly Blanc Moses, MS, BCBA, LPC, LPA, of Crossvine Clinical Group, PLLC, in Raleigh, has more than 19 years of experience in working with individuals with autism and developing strategies to assist them.

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Q&A with Dr. Jed Baker, Autism Expert

 

jed-baker

On Friday, November 4, Dr. Jed Baker will lead a daylong conference that touches on two very important topics for families and caregivers: managing frustration and anxiety and teaching social skills. Dr. Baker graciously shared some insights and previewed his talk in a Q&A recently.

 

Why is it important for caregivers to think about managing their frustration and anxiety levels when interacting or working with their child or student?

We fight fire with water. To respond intelligently and with understanding to a challenging situation requires us to manage our own emotions as caregivers. Our own reactivity can hijack our better judgment and escalate the problem rather than resolve the issue.

Everyone experiences anxiety and frustration. How does the experience differ for those on the autism spectrum?

Social perception, sensory, language, and learning issues can make many situations more confusing, unexpected, and frustrating to those with autism. Difficulty transcending the moment can make a temporary problem, like not getting to play a videogame, seem like a life-threatening crisis.

You provide concrete strategies that address anxiety and frustration in caregivers and children with autism spectrum disorder. Can you provide a preview of one example?

Preventing frustration depends on understanding how an individual perceives a difficult situation. For example, not getting to do a desired activity can seem like an unbearable issue. Providing a timer or visual schedule can help an individual know he will get what he wants, allowing him to wait more calmly.

As another example, anxiety about confusing classwork can make kids feel ashamed and afraid to try. Learning how to undo the shame of asking for help and disentangling it from judgments about intelligence can free students to more calmly approach challenging work in an effort to grow.

The conference also addresses social skills, including skill acquisition and motivation to use social skills. What’s the difference?

Acquisition strategies refer to ways to teach skills. We need to pick strategies that match an individual’s language ability. Teaching a skill does not ensure the individual wants to learn or use the skill. Motivation refers to “what’s in it for the individual” to learn and use the skill. Sometimes we use external rewards like favored activities or objects as rewards for using a social skill. Yet more importantly for motivating socializing are natural rewards like wanting a friend or making the interaction so much fun the individual wants to interact.

The social skills portion of the day also spends time focusing on peer interactions, creating acceptance, and reducing bullying. Why are these three things so important?

Socializing is a two-way street. We cannot try just to get those with ASD to fit in but also to get others to reach out. And all students have a right to a safe and accepting environment. One key to anti-bullying is to empower the peer community to police itself with upstanding peers.

Want to learn more? Join us on November 4 in Raleigh. To learn more about the conference and register, click here. The ASNC Bookstore will also be at the event with Dr. Baker’s numerous books. Register soon; the early bird price is valid through midnight October 16.

Wrapping Up the 2015 Legislative Session

NC House ChamberThis article was contributed by Jennifer Mahan, Director of Advocacy and Public Policy at ASNC.

The NC General Assembly recently concluded an eight-month legislative session, the longest on record for the past 14 years. During the long session, ASNC continued to advocate for our legislative priorities, including access to high quality services and supports, better education opportunities, and a system that promotes good outcomes. The NC General Assembly passed a number of bills that affect people with autism and their families. A summary is below.

Budget HB 97: ASNC has posted a separate blog post about items in the state budget that affect people with autism, other intellectual and developmental disabilities, and health conditions. The budget includes a number of policy issues as well as additions and cuts to the state’s two year budget. The full budget bill HB 97 and committee reports can be found on the General Assembly website in the left column on the front page.

Autism Insurance SB 676: Senate Bill 676, “Autism Health Insurance Coverage,” passed in the final day of the legislative session. The new law requires large group health plans to provide health-care benefits for the treatment of autism for children and youth through age 18. The new law applies to companies that operate only in North Carolina with more than 50 employees and who do not “self-insure.” Insurance laws can be complicated, and ASNC recommends reading more details in this blog post and checking our autism insurance information page.

ABLE Act for North Carolina: Legislation passed this year will allow people with disabilities and their families to open 529 “ABLE” accounts and set aside money for disability related expenses without losing eligibility for other benefit programs such as Medicaid, Medicare, and Social Security. The law passed this year, and the NC Treasurer’s Office estimates that accounts will be available by summer of 2016. Read more in this blog post. A longer article can be found in our Summer 2015 Spectrum magazine on pages 10 and 11.

Medicaid Reform: NC will create a new Medicaid managed-care system and change the state agency that operates North Carolina’s Medicaid programs. Medicaid services will be contracted out to private managed-care companies and regional provider (hospital) led health systems. The focus of this new system will be on integrating care, especially physical and mental health care, improving health outcomes and controlling costs. All Medicaid services, excluding dental but including those for intellectual and developmental disabilities, are expected to be part of the managed-care model. Changes could take 5-10 years, depending on how long it takes to set up the new system and for the federal government to approve North Carolina’s Medicaid managed-care waiver(s). ASNC staff are reviewing the final Medicaid reform bill and will post more information in the future.

HB 921/Budget Education Provisions: Significant sections of House Bill 921, Educational Opportunities for People with Disabilities, were included in the budget in two sections on elementary and post secondary education. Section 8.30.(a) requires North Carolina to study and develop policy changes for improving outcomes for K-12 students with disabilities, including ways to:

  • Raise graduation rates
  • Provide more outcomes-based goals
  • Ensure access to career-ready diplomas
  • Integrate accessible digital learning options
  • Provide earlier and improved transition planning

State agencies are expected to reform the IEP process to focus on outcomes-based gals, bring together stakeholders to improve transition services plans, create ways for students with IEPs to access Future Ready Core Courses of Study (technical and vocational education) as a viable alternative to Occupational Course of Study diplomas, and look at model programs for increasing school performance and graduation rates. The NC Department of Public Instruction is required to report to the General Assembly’s Joint legislative Oversight Committee on Education on the above activities by November 15 and annually thereafter.

Section 11.19.(a) requites state agencies to collaborate to support educational opportunities for students and young adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities, particularly in transitioning to adulthood, post-secondary education, and employment. It requires the NC Department of Health and Human Services; the Division of Mental Health, Developmental Disabilities, and Substance Abuse Services; the University of North Carolina system; and the community college system in consultation with the NC Postsecondary Education Alliance and other stakeholders to:

  • Assess system gaps and needs for supporting students/people with disabilities transitioning into adulthood
  • Develop policies and programs to expand post-secondary educational options and employment
  • Implement more public awareness of post-secondary education and employment of people with disabilities
  • Develop joint policies and common data indicators for tracking outcomes of people with disabilities leaving high school
  • Consider options for technology to link agency databases

ASNC advocated for funding to support technical assistance centers to support the above activities, but these were not funded in the budget. We will be going back to the legislature during the short session to continue to work on additional funding.

Changes to Students with Disabilities Scholarships: The Students with Disabilities Scholarship for students with IEPs who opt for non-public education was increased from $3,000 to $4,000 per semester ($8,000 per year), and policy changes allow funds to be dispersed to families and schools prior to the school year. Due to increased demand, there is a waiting list for the scholarships. ASNC will continue to advocate for additional funds to serve those waiting.

In addition, House Bill 334, passed at the end of session, will change the re-assessment process for students in receiving the scholarship: students must either be “assessed for continued eligibility” by a) the local Education Authority to determine if the child is still a child with a disability under IDEA, OR b) by a licensed psychologist with a school psychology focus who shall assess whether the non-public school has improved the student’s educational performance and the student would benefit from continuing to attend the non-public school.

School Staff Assault Bill SB 343: ASNC continues to monitor SB 343 legislation which would make assault on school personnel a felony. Advocates, including ASNC, pushed for changes to the bill that exempted students with IEPs and required assessments to determine if the student has a disability. ASNC remains concerned about the bill given that “assault” is not well defined and many students with a diagnosis of autism or other developmental challenges may not have IEPs. The bill is eligible for consideration in next year’s short session and is currently being held in the House Committee on Children, Youth, and Families.

If you have questions about the North Carolina state budget or other policy issues, please contact Jennifer Mahan, ASNC Director of Advocacy and Public Policy at jmahan@autismsociety-nc.org or 919-865-5068.

A Closer Look at the NC House Budget

GA Front

This article was contributed by Jennifer Mahan, ASNC Director of Advocacy and Public Policy.

The NC House passed HB97, its version of the two-year budget, on May 22. The House budget would increase spending by $1.3 billion (6.3 percent) to address funding needs in Medicaid, education, and other services. The bill includes funds for increased teacher pay, student growth, some education initiatives, current Medicaid services, and new crisis services.

The Senate is expected to reveal its version of the budget this week, with fewer increases in funding to make changes to income and corporate tax rates. Then a House and Senate budget conference committee is usually appointed to work out differences between the budget bills.

Here are some details on the proposed House budget:

Education

  • 2 percent pay increase for teachers
  • Student growth is funded
  • Special education per-pupil spending is increased in special provision language
  • Funds for technical assistance to increase capacity for postsecondary education for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities

The education special provisions include bill language from HB921 to begin addressing graduation and future employment of students with disabilities as well as to improve postsecondary education opportunities that promote employment and independent living.

Health and Human Services

  • Funds Medicaid rebase (growth in Medicaid eligible populations and current services)
  • Adds $2.3 million to the NC START crisis program that serves individuals with IDD so that it can serve children and youth.
  • Adds about $7.5 million (some recurring and some non-recurring) to develop more crisis services for MHDDSA populations including hospital beds, behavioral health crisis units, and a crisis bed registry.
  • Adds $2.1 million to fund a pilot project for Targeted Case Management for individuals on the waiting list for Innovations waiver services slots.

The special provision language in the Medicaid section would return more control to the NC Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) to manage the Medicaid budget. Legislators stated that the language in this section will allow NC DHHS to shift funds as needed to support group homes that have been affected by changes to Medicaid policy on who qualifies for personal care and other services.

Other

  • Funds the administration and promotion of ABLE Act 529 savings plans for people with disabilities.

What’s missing?

The House budget bill does not specifically fund the expansion of Innovations waiver slots to address the lengthy waiting list for IDD services. Also not included are any new funds to address the need for autism treatment under Medicaid Early and Periodic Screening, Diagnostic, and Treatment services. The $2.3 million in NC START funding in the House budget is enough to address the gap in adult IDD crisis but is not enough to address the needs of children and youth with IDD. Another $4-5 million would be needed to build effective child and youth crisis services.

ASNC will continue to advocate with the Senate to ensure that education and human services budgets address the growing needs of people with autism and other developmental disabilities.

Learn more

Information about the budget and the latest versions of the bill can be found in the left column of the General Assembly’s website at http://www.ncleg.net. The “bill text” includes all of the bill language including the special provisions. The “committee report” is also called the money report and includes funding cuts, additions, and shifts in funding from one source to another as well as a brief description of each funding item.

Have questions about this legislation or other public policy issues? Contact Jennifer Mahan, ASNC Director of Advocacy and Public Policy, at jmahan@autismsociety-nc.org or 919-865-5068.

ASNC Offers Free JobTIPS Classes

JobTIPS has begun in Greensboro

JobTIPS has begun in Greensboro

October is recognized as National Disability Employment Awareness Month by the U.S. Department of Labor. The national campaign aims to raise awareness about disability employment issues and celebrate the contributions of America’s workers with disabilities.

The Autism Society of North Carolina has made it a priority to help individuals with autism to secure and maintain meaningful employment, and recently was awarded a grant by the Walmart Foundation to expand our Employment Supports department. Part of that effort is providing the JobTIPS vocational program without cost to participants in three regions.

JobTIPS helps individuals with autism who are more abstract thinkers, such as individuals who might consider themselves high-functioning or who were diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome or PDD-NOS, obtain the necessary skills to gain meaningful employment, including the social skills that are critical to identifying, applying for, securing, and maintaining employment. JobTIPS emphasizes peer support as participants share experiences and advice, role play scenarios related to obtaining and keeping a job, and work on resumes.

The JobTIPS vocational program lasts 12 weeks, meeting once a week, and has a value of more than $300. ASNC is admitting participants on a rolling basis, so individuals can apply at any time.

To learn more about a free JobTIPS program near you, please use the following contacts:

When sending an email, please include the following information:

  • ​​Name, age, and contact information
  • Diagnosis information
  • Known supports needed to ensure successful participation in JobTIPS
  • Employment history (volunteer experiences, etc.)

 

Legislative Wrap-up 2014: Education Policy

This article is the last of several wrapping up the 2014 legislative session. 

The Autism Society of North Carolina’s focus on education continued to highlight improving education for children with disabilities in public schools while also offering options to parents who need to find different academic settings.

Public Education: Per-student funding was not changed for special education in public schools. Public school teachers will see 7% raises on average, though the raise will vary from1% to 18%, depending on a revised pay scale that builds longevity pay into the pay scale rather than adding it separately. To reduce class sizes in kindergarten through third grade, $41 million was added for additional teachers. Cuts to local educational funding include teaching assistants ($130 million recurring, $24 million non-recurring), textbooks ($900,000) and transportation funding ($8 million). Local school districts are given some flexibility in how they implement these cuts.

Department of Public Instruction: The NC Department of Public Instruction received a 10% funding cut and will eliminate 50 positions, including some in the Division of Exceptional Children (which serves children with disabilities), the office of early learning that assists hearing and vision impaired children, positions that support schools for the deaf and blind, in IT services, and positions that support struggling schools, accountability, and other areas.

H712 Clarifying Changes to Scholarship Bill: Last year, the General Assembly passed legislation to replace the tax credit for children with disabilities that was repealed with the passage of tax reform legislation. The law passed last year permits parents or guardians of children with disabilities to apply for scholarships up to $3,000 per semester for families who enroll their child with disabilities in private schools. This year, ASNC and other groups worked with the General Assembly to pass clarifying legislation for the scholarship to:

  • Clearly define a child with a disability
  • Ensure that the DEC 3 determination of a disability is the standard for determining eligibility for the scholarship so that an IEP need not be developed every three years to continue to qualify for the scholarship when a child has already left the public school system.
  • Define educational technology in a way that ensures that it keeps up with new technology and allow educational technology reimbursement to be part of the scholarship program.
  • Clarifies that students who are homeschooled may receive reimbursement for “related services” and educational technology as long as they meet the requirements. Note that recent rules changes from the NC Education Assistance Authority (NC EAA) confirm that different related services may be combined to reach the minimum 75 days of required services during a semester to receive reimbursement.
  • Requires the NC EAA to place information on its website advising families that placement in non-public schools ends a child’s rights to disability-related services under IDEA.
  • Requires the State Board of Education to ensure that local educational agencies are complying with the requirements to do evaluations and re-evaluations in a timely way and to comply with the requirements of the scholarship program.

Study Vocational Training in Persons with IDD: As noted in our budget update, the budget special provisions include language from H731, Study Vocational Training in Persons with IDD. Section 10.4(a) of the budget authorizes the Joint Legislative Oversight Committee on Education to study issues related to vocational training for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities, including model programs for training, developing vocational expertise, and job readiness; enhancing employment outcomes; barriers to employment; establishing partnerships between community colleges, universities, NC DHHS, VR and community organizations that offer job training; policies for ensuring students are prepared for higher education following high school; and policies for job training as students complete secondary school.

If you have questions about public policy issues, please contact Jennifer Mahan, Director of Advocacy and Public Policy, at 919-865-5068 or jmahan@autismsociety-nc.org.

Spotlight on Grandparents & Chapters

EileenandMilesHancox

Editor’s note: For those who have a loved one with Autism Spectrum Disorder, a community of support can be a lifeline. For more than 40 years, ASNC Chapters and Support Groups have provided families who face similar challenges an opportunity to encourage one another, share experiences, find information and resources, and have a place where they feel welcomed and understood. These volunteer-led groups also offer education to families, increase autism awareness and understanding, and support and extend ASNC’s mission in their local communities.

Throughout this year, we are highlighting the ways each of our Chapters and Support Groups makes a difference. To find one near you, please click here or contact Marty Kellogg, ASNC State Chapter Coordinator, at 919-865-5088 or mkellogg@autismsociety-nc.org.

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Grandparents often hold a special place in today’s families. Economic realities mean that extended family members may have to lend a hand in rearing children. For families dealing with Autism Spectrum Disorder, grandparents can provide an extra layer of support that is greatly needed.

In some cases, grandparents are the primary caregivers. Annette and Steve Horsley of Winston-Salem have reared their two grandsons since the younger one was a toddler. Aaron, 11, and Sam, 9, both have autism, and the Horsleys lead the Davidson County Chapter of the Autism Society of North Carolina (ASNC). Annette says they were inspired to start a local chapter after seeing a Surfers Healing event on the coast and learning of an ASNC chapter’s work with the group.

“When we get together and share, it’s like we’re not alone,” Horsley says of her chapter. Hearing for the first time that your child has autism can be overwhelming, she says. But talking to other caregivers in the same situation lets those families know: “You will survive this.”

Grandparents, especially, can offer solace, because they often have gone through challenges with their own children, who are now adults. “We can say our children are in their 30s, and we lived through it,” Horsley said, laughing.

The Davidson Chapter is very active, offering one social activity and one educational meeting per month. Horsley said they are particularly proud of the chapter’s work to partner with other local agencies to get families the help they need. “I’m excited that we’re all working together for Davidson County. We’re actually reaching out to the community.”

The Wayne County Chapter also works with agencies in its county to expand opportunities for local families, said Terry Daily, one of the co-leaders. The chapter meets once a month, often inviting speakers in for educational programs, and leaders also share details of programs by other agencies so members can attend.

Daily and his wife adopted their granddaughter with autism in 2008 and are her primary caregivers. They have been a part of the chapter for about 10 years, since learning  while they had custody of her that Kimberly, now 10, had autism.

Marty Kellogg, State Chapter Coordinator, said, “Terry is a passionate advocate for his granddaughter and works tirelessly in the chapter to help and support other families.”

Daily said some grandparents face a unique challenge if they are the primary caregivers for grandchildren with autism. “Unless you have custody of the child, your hands can kind of be tied,” he said. Noncustodial caregivers have difficulties getting services for their loved ones.

Grandparents support groups

In other areas of North Carolina, ASNC has started support groups especially for grandparents.

Eileen Hancox of Raleigh said learning that her grandson Miles, now 7, had autism was difficult for her. “With a grandparent, it’s a double whammy,” Hancox said, remembering the worry she felt not only for Miles, but for her son and his dreams for his own child. “They’re still your kids, and this isn’t what they bargained for.”

Hancox decided that what she needed was a place to brag about Miles, a place to share her joys and concerns – a place just for grandparents. Nothing like that seemed to exist locally, so she started one: a grandparents support group through the Wake County Chapter of ASNC. Members meet once a month to listen to a speaker and spend some time sharing. “We can be honest and know that it’s going to stay in that room,” Hancox said. “I am so excited with the response.”

Kellogg said she is also pleased and excited that chapters have begun creating support groups for grandparents. The Guilford County Chapter also has started a group for grandparents to share their unique perspectives and learn from speakers. Lisa McCutcheon-Gutknecht, the Guilford leader, said future plans will be shaped by feedback provided by the grandparents.

“We hope to see more of these groups spring up across the state as our chapters continue to meet the needs of all their family and community members,” Kellogg said.

For more information

Davidson County Chapter: autismsociety.davidsonnc@gmail.com

The chapter meets on the third Thursday each month at the Lexington library. The chapter will learn about Camp Royall’s year-round offerings at 6 p.m. March 20.

Wayne County Chapter: http://home.earthlink.net/~asncwayne/

The chapter usually meets on the third Friday each month at St. Luke Methodist Church in Goldsboro. Autism Resource Specialist Katie Holler will speak at the meeting at 6:30 p.m. March 21.

Wake County Chapter: http://wakecountyautismsociety.org/

For information about the grandparents group, email Eileen Hancox at eileenhancox@gmail.com. The group meets on the second Tuesday each month at the  ASNC state office, 505 Oberlin Road, Raleigh.

Guilford County Chapter: asnc.guilford@gmail.com

The Guilford grandparents group will meet at 10 a.m. Wednesday, March 19, at the ASNC Greensboro office.

You can also find all of the chapters on Facebook.