Looking for a Place to Belong? Join an ASNC Chapter

pender-pizza-and-pool-2

Pender County Chapter

Fall is a great time to join one of the Autism Society of North Carolina’s 50 Chapters and Support Groups around the state. The beginning of the new school year also marks the restart of the groups’ activities and events.

ASNC’s Chapters and Support Groups are led by generous parents or family member volunteers who join together with other concerned individuals to create a welcoming and inclusive community of support for individuals with autism and their families. “So many of our members tell us how happy they are to finally have somewhere to turn and how good it feels to not feel alone,” said Amy Irvin, mom and a member of the leadership team for the Sampson County Chapter.

lumberton-faith-workshop

Robeson County Chapter

Emily Green, a member of the Forsyth County Chapter said, “I consider these people my truest friends. I can trust them to watch (and understand) my kids or ask them for information about services, extracurricular activities, or medical advice. I love being part of such a supportive and accepting group of people that always have an answer, a suggestion, or know where to point you to help find one.”

If you live in one of the following areas, you can take part in one of our new or revitalized Chapters and Support Groups: Caldwell County, Halifax County, the High Country (Ashe, Alleghany, Watauga and Wilkes counties), Lee County, Macon County, Rowan County, Wayne County, or Wilson County.

Kristi Ford, Leader of the new Lee County Support Group, said the group has been planning meet-up events and playdates to get together regularly. “For this year, I’m most excited about seeing us mold together as a group, see friendships form, and for our children to become playmates,” she said. “Living a life of autism can be isolating for the whole family, so I hope we can reach families in our area to let them know that there are others walking the same journey and we can all have fun together.”

Jennifer Clapton, leader of the Halifax County Support Group, said, “We are excited about growing as a new chapter and increasing parent involvement. We also are very interested in offering ongoing social outings for our kids.”

Malinda Pennington said the Wilson County Chapter is excited about its second year. “We want to be able to support the unique needs of every family such as those with girls on the spectrum, young children school-age children, and adolescent/ adults with autism.”

No matter where you are, click here to find a group near you, or check out our online calendar to see events.

 

Run/Walk for Autism: A Day “I Can Just Be Me!”

mile3 square.jpg

Two years ago at the 2014 Triangle Run/Walk for Autism, 7-year-old Abigail was in tears after crossing the finish line. She told her worried mother that she was sad because she didn’t win the race. Abigail’s parents explained to her that finishing first was not their goal.

The little girl with autism took the lesson to heart before the 2015 race. “She surprised me last year when we crossed the finish and she exclaimed how happy she was,” said her mother, Emily Hamilton. “She said that we are winners in this race because we can make people’s lives better.”

teamThe Hamilton family has indeed been making people’s lives better, raising more than $2,000 in the Autism Society of North Carolina’s biggest fundraiser of the year with their team, Piece, Love and Abigail. (The team’s name is a play on the puzzle piece that often represents autism, but they also have fun by sporting tie-dye and other hippie-themed attire, Emily said.)

But to the Hamiltons, the Triangle Run/Walk for Autism is much more than a fundraiser. “It gives us a chance to be with so many others on the spectrum,” Emily said. “It is a whole day where you know there will be no judgment, just understanding. It gives all of us a chance to see representation of the entire spectrum and socialize with families just like us.

“Abigail says it is a day ‘I can just be me!’”

Unfortunately, Abigail has not always had that opportunity. Her parents noticed she was different from other kids her age when she was as young as 1 and wasn’t meeting developmental milestones, but their pediatrician advised them that she would catch up. By the time Abigail was 3, the gap was widening between her and her day-care classmates. She behaved aggressively and was sensitive to sounds, lights, and other sensations.

“She was socially withdrawn and was struggling in almost every task asked of her,” Emily said. “Her behavior seemed to be reflecting all of the inner turmoil she was dealing with. We were at a loss.”

When she was 4, Abigail was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder, ADHD, and auditory processing disorder at UNC Hospital. Emily said their family and friends were surprised by the diagnoses. “Many people said things such as ‘But she’s a girl, they don’t have autism.’ Others said, ‘But she looks so normal.’”

Emily said this lack of understanding is another reason the family supports the Autism Society of North Carolina. This year, the family from Creedmoor started fundraising for their team early as part of Autism Awareness Month in April, and they made bracelets, lanyards, watchbands, and other items to reward those who donated. Abigail has enjoyed helping to make the bracelets, practicing her fine-motor skills, and interacting with donors, practicing her social skills. “So in a way, although we are helping the efforts of ASNC, the fundraising activities have actually helped her,” Emily said. “We have also found this to be a super way for us to have some mother-daughter time, which is so special to me!”

abby2.jpgAbigail is now 9 and is much more successful in school. She has received speech and occupational therapy for the past three years, and her mother has relied on resources from the Autism Society of North Carolina. “I found that the information provided by ASNC was very helpful in teaching myself and others about autism and was crucial in helping Abigail at school,” Emily said. “The IEP and services information proved to be invaluable as she progressed in school. We were able to utilize many of the tools and recommendations to formulate a plan that worked at school as well as home.”

Abigail has also benefited from her service dog, a French Briard that was trained by a local group, Ry-Con Service Dogs. “Prior to getting Samson, Abby suffered from some pretty severe social anxiety. She was unable to go into public places such as restaurants and grocery stores due to sensory overload and anxiety,” Emily said. “Since Samson came along, that has all but subsided. She loves introducing Samson to people that she meets, and he keeps her calm even in the most stressful of situations.”

Samson will be by Abigail’s side at the Triangle Run/Walk for Autism, but it is not one of those stressful situations. On Oct. 8, Abigail will proudly lead her team of family and friends through downtown Raleigh, making sure to spread her message. “I’m just like everybody else, but at the same time I like being different!”

 

Step out to improve lives in the Triangle Run/Walk for Autism on Saturday, Oct. 8! The event in downtown Raleigh will include a USATF-certified 5K race, which is part of the Second Empire Grand-Prix Series; a 5K noncompetitive run; a recreational 1-mile run/walk; and a kids’ dash. Celebrate autism awareness and acceptance with a kids’ play area, music, refreshments, and vendor space that will showcase local businesses, service providers, support resources, and sponsors. Proceeds will fund local programs of the Autism Society of North Carolina.

Register today: www.trianglerunwalkforautism.com

Gavin’s Gang Walks for Resources and Awareness

 

Gavin's Gang.JPG

Gavin Beale didn’t say his first word and screamed in frustration until after his third birthday. From the time he was about 10 months old, his parents, Jenny and Jason Beale of Greensboro, were very concerned about him.

“It was a very dark time because we didn’t know what was going on with him,” said his mother, Jenny. “I knew in my heart of hearts that something wasn’t quite right.”

GavinGavin didn’t enjoy books or do many of the things his older brother, Owen, had done at the same age. When he was 2, the family was told that he might have autism, but he was not diagnosed until later, when he had some language and was fully assessed by Guilford County staff. In the meantime, he had rigorous speech therapy and special education teachers who came to his preschool almost every day to work with him.

Beale said the family had not been public about what they were going through with Gavin during his first couple of years. Once they got the diagnosis in spring 2014, she was ready to share their story. They formed a team for the Greensboro Run/Walk for Autism, the Autism Society of North Carolina’s annual fundraiser. She sent an email out about Gavin with a link to the page for their team, Gavin’s Gang.

The family was overwhelmed by the support of their friends, family, and community, including their home church, Guilford Park Presbyterian. “It’s a testament to Gavin, really. He’s a bright light,” she said. “It’s just a testament to how much people love him.”

In the team’s first year, the family raised almost $3,000 and in the second, their total was $3,075! The team was among the top three fundraisers for the Greensboro Run/Walk for Autism. “When we formed the team, I didn’t really expect that,” Beale said. “The power of social media is amazing!

“The nice thing about the race is that family and friends don’t have to live in Greensboro to support it,” said Beale, adding that they usually have 15-20 people who do the Run/Walk with them, but many more support the team with donations.

Now Gavin is almost 6, and “he has really blossomed,” Beale said. He has a wonderful sense of humor and is very expressive through art and music. He loves going to school but does need help with transitions and social situations. “I love how he thinks of things outside the box,” his mother said. “His perspective is so different. It’s just amazing the way his brain works.”

Gavin plays with LEGOs for hours. “We always say that he’s going to be an engineer,” Beale said. “He’s definitely a builder.”

Beale said they feel fortunate that Gavin is doing so well and want to help other families who might not know about resources that are available from the Autism Society of North Carolina, which improves the lives of individuals with autism, supports their families, and educates communities. “I just know that there are so many people that aren’t as lucky as we are. It feels good to do something.”

She also hopes that their efforts help support autism awareness in the community. Many people tell her that Gavin “doesn’t look like he has autism” or exhibit what they consider to be the usual characteristics. These misconceptions mean they may not understand what his true challenges are, she said, bringing up her concerns about how he will do with social situations in kindergarten this fall.

But one day she is not worried about is Sept. 24, when her family will be out at UNC-Greensboro for the Run/Walk for Autism. She knows that her family will be among a community of people who care and understand that day. “All these folks are experiencing on some level what we are going through.”

 

Step out to improve lives in the Greensboro Run/Walk for Autism on Saturday, Sept. 24! The event at UNC-Greensboro will include a 5K race and a recreational 1K run/walk. Celebrate autism awareness and acceptance with music, refreshments, and vendor space that will showcase local businesses, service providers, support resources, and sponsors. Proceeds will fund local programs of the Autism Society of North Carolina.

Register today: www.greensbororunwalkforautism.com

 

 

Make 2016-17 Your Child’s Best School Year Yet

Elementary school children writing in class

It’s almost here again – back-to-school time! Are you ready? Or does the mere thought of a new school year make you anxious? The Autism Society of North Carolina wants to partner with you and your child for a successful school year.

Please take advantage of the resources we offer.

IEP-Toolkit-webToolkits: We have many easy-to-use, accessible toolkits to guide you through challenging times. Several are on school-related topics: The IEP, Behavior & the IEP, and Bullying. All of these free toolkits can be read online or downloaded and printed: http://bit.ly/ASNCtoolkits

Autism Resource Specialists: We have 17 Autism Resource Specialists across the state, standing by to consult with you. They are all parents of children or adults with autism themselves, so they have firsthand knowledge and a unique understanding of what you’re going through. They strive to empower families to be the best advocates for their children. Find the Autism Resource Specialist serving your area: http://bit.ly/AutismResourceSpecialists

Podcasts: Several of our Autism Resource Specialists got together for a back-to-school discussion. Listen in with our podcast titled “Back to School: What You Need to Know and Do for a Successful Start!” You can check out the complete list of available podcasts here: http://www.autismsociety-nc.org/podcasts

Workshops: Our Autism Resource Specialists also share their expertise through workshops, both in-person and online. Some upcoming webinars are IEP Basics: Frequently Asked Questions, IEP Notebook: Taming the Paper Monster, and Preparing for College Starts at Home. We also have many workshops in various locations; find the complete schedule here: http://bit.ly/ASNCWorkshopCalendar

backtoschool Coupon_0816_web2ASNC Bookstore: If you are looking for books and videos, our bookstore is the place to go. The ASNC Bookstore is the most convenient place to find the very best autism resources, with over 600 titles. Bookstore staff members are always willing to share recommendations on particular topics. And until Aug. 31, we have a 20% off sale with code BTSS2016! Browse online: www.autismbookstore.com

Chapters & Support Groups: ASNC has more than 50 Chapters and Support Groups around the state. Chapters provide a place where you can receive encouragement from families facing similar challenges and share experiences, information, and resources. Find one near you: http://bit.ly/ASNCChapters

Our blog: Of course, you already know about our blog because you are reading it right now. But have you subscribed? You don’t want to miss the educational posts from our Autism Resource Specialists or Clinical staff. One recent education-related post was College Options for Students with ASD. Use the search box at the top right to look for posts on particular topics.

Stay connected: Last but not least, connect with us! Sign up to receive our monthly email newsletters and the twice-yearly Spectrum magazine at http://bit.ly/ASNCStayInformed. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook. We are constantly sharing helpful information, and we don’t want you to miss any of it.

Still have questions? Please contact us so that we can help you find the help you need:

800-442-2762 (NC only)
919-743-0204
Autism Society of North Carolina
505 Oberlin Road, Suite 230
Raleigh, NC 27605
info@autismsociety-nc.org

 

WNC Run/Walk for Autism Inspires Pride

 

Trimbachs.JPG

Jesse Trimbach and his father, Joe, at the WNC Run/Walk for Autism

Jesse Trimbach is 28 and lives in his own apartment in Asheville. He uses public transportation to get to the Habitat for Humanity office, where he volunteers doing data entry. He takes pride in making his own meals and in being independent.

Jesse was diagnosed with autism at 2½ years old. He was in mainstream classes through his school years, with some supports, and has taken some courses at a technical college. He has worked at a library and at a funeral home doing data entry, and he is interested in computers and politics.

His mother, Kathy, said, “Jesse has accomplished a tremendous amount, and we are very proud of him.”

“Jesse is able to live on his own with support from the Autism Society of North Carolina,” Kathy said. A community skills instructor assists Jesse with organization, conversation and social skills, cooking, and safety issues.

Jesse’s parents recently traveled to Europe, and they knew he would be fine while they were gone both because of Jesse’s ability to live independently and because of the services from the Autism Society of North Carolina (ASNC).

“Their staff is trained in autism, since it is their primary focus,” she said. “And it’s a collaborative effort between parents and the workers. I feel like I can talk with them about anything.”

The family’s experience with ASNC has inspired them to participate in the WNC Run/Walk for Autism, ASNC’s fundraiser held each September at UNC-Asheville. They have attended every year since moving to Asheville from Seattle about six years ago, and they have raised money as part of Team Trimbach.

“It’s becoming more and more important to get out and raise money,” Kathy said. “Families need services.”

Jesse said, “It’s important to help raise money for people on the spectrum, so they can receive more services and benefits. I feel proud of joining the Run/Walk.”

Besides supporting the cause, the family enjoys the event. Jesse has fun seeing people he knows from ASNC as well as participants from other years. “It’s a real joyous sense of community. He loves it!” Kathy said.

Educating the community about autism is another important part of ASNC’s eight Run/Walks for Autism across the state. ASNC believes that individuals with autism deserve meaningful lives as contributing members of the communities in which they live. People with autism have much to teach us, and they have unique gifts that can make our communities a better place to live for all of us.

Kathy and Jesse have done their part in raising autism awareness. When they lived in Seattle, Jesse’s middle-school psychologist taught a course on inclusion for regular education teachers at Western Washington University. Kathy and Jesse did a series of presentations each semester on supporting students with autism through the years. “Jesse really enjoyed doing these presentations and was very articulate in his speaking and in answering questions,” his mom said.

“Individuals with autism also make great employees,” Kathy said, “and employers should consider hiring more of them. “

Jesse, who hopes to find employment again soon, says that he appreciates it when people have high expectations of him. Parents of young children with autism should “teach them how to be more independent as they get older,” he said.

Thanks to Jesse, his family, and hundreds of others participating in the WNC Run/Walk for Autism, ASNC will be there for parents as they do just that.

 

Step out to improve lives in the 11th annual WNC Run/Walk for Autism at 1:30 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 11! The event at UNC-Asheville will include a 5K race, a recreational 1K run/walk, activities for children, music, and refreshments. Vendor space will showcase local businesses, service providers, support resources, and sponsors. Proceeds will fund local programs of the Autism Society of North Carolina.

Register today: http://www.wncrunwalkforautism.com

 

Putting the “Fun” in Fundraiser

 

It’s the middle of summer, and you have a bit of breathing room before the crazy round of activities cranks up again. Why not have a little fun and raise some money for people with autism and their loved ones at the same time?

We’ve got some ideas to get you started:

 

People love to eat!

ribs

Neighborhood cook-off: You know that neighbor who always says he makes the best ribs? What about the one who brags about his secret sauce? Let them show off their skills! Pull those grills into the middle of the cul-de-sac and fire up everyone’s competitive spirit. Put out cans and have people taste and vote for their favorite by donating to the corresponding can. Winner of the cook-off is the one with the most donations. You’re the real champion for helping people with autism!

Progressive dinner: We love having people over for dinner, but it’s daunting to think of making all the food yourself. With a progressive dinner, you and several neighbors can each make and serve one course. Easy as pie! At the end of the night, each family can donate to ASNC the amount they would have spent on such a lovely evening at a restaurant.

Pie-eating contest: Speaking of pie, there are two kinds of people in this world. Those who would love an excuse to eat a ton of pie, and those who would love to watch and laugh. Bring them all together with a pie-eating contest. You could charge admission or just ask for donations. You could sell extra pies to be eaten in the privacy of spectators’ own homes. Everyone loves pie!

 

Sell, sell, sell

preview_fresh-lemonade

Lemonade stand, bake sale, Krispy Kreme sale: Did we mention people love to eat? Find a high traffic spot to set up your stand on a Saturday morning, and get some cute kids to make the pitch with you. Tell passers-by you’re improving the lives of people with autism here in NC, and they’ll be thrilled at the excuse to indulge their sweet tooth.

Community yard sale: You have too much stuff. Your kids have too much stuff. Your neighbors have too much stuff. Why not schedule a neighborhood yard sale – or one at your school or place of worship – and donate the proceeds to ASNC? You’ll get rid of stuff and help a good cause at the same time. Win-win!

 

We know it’s hot, but get outside

duck

Pool party: It’s been a month since graduations, and a few weeks since the Fourth of July. People are ready for another party! Check whether you can schedule one in your neighborhood pool or another local pool. You may not be able to charge admission, but popsicles and other cool treats are sure to sell quickly. You can also offer other fun activities for the kids, like face-painting, in exchange for donations.

Scavenger hunt: People of all ages can get into a scavenger hunt. Make it a family event and look for safe locations, such as open parks away from traffic. Type up a list of clues, pick up a few small prizes and some bottled water, and you will have created a unique day of fun for teams of families. They’ll be so grateful at getting their kids outside for some activity, that they just might donate a portion of what they would have spent at a local venue!

Kiddie carnival: Bring in the clowns! Bring in the water balloons to toss, beanbags to throw, and cans to knock over! Add some refreshments, a magician, and some face-painting, and you’ve got a full-blown carnival for the wee ones. Charge one price for admission or sell tickets to activities – either way, it’s way cheaper than Disney.

 

Team up with local businesses

Starters-RestaurantMealPrices

Awareness night: Local businesses love to give back to their communities. Do you have a restaurant you go to every Friday night? Or an ice cream store nearby that the kids all love? Talk to them about holding an autism awareness night. You spread the word to bring in people, and they donate a portion of proceeds to improve lives and support families. We’d be happy to help you get the word out!

Donation cans: Never underestimate the impact of the can on the counter. Get your kids to decorate a bunch of them – be sure to include a message about helping people with autism – and ask businesses to set them out. Keep in mind, this does require follow-up to go back and collect the proceeds.

 

In it to win it

cornhole

Volleyball, kickball, or cornhole: Team tournaments are great for weekend warriors – not too much skill required, and little risk of injury. You could charge admission for teams, sell refreshments, even put out cans so spectators can vote for the team they think will win by donating. Get local businesses to serve as sponsors and provide refreshments to sell, and you’ll be able to donate even more!

Golf tournament: This would be a little more involved and require some coordinating with a local facility, but if you are already part of a tournament, why not see whether it can benefit the Autism Society of North Carolina? Or you can come to our annual tournament for Camp Royall, held each year at The Preserve at Jordan Lake in Chapel Hill. Ask us if you’d like more info.

 

Working for the giving

crafts

Parents’ night out: Here’s a perfect idea for your teenager’s sports team or youth group! They find a kid-friendly location such as a local church, pick a date, and advertise that they are offering three hours of drop-off fun for kids of a certain age. Parents will be happy to have the time alone, the cared-for children will have a ball, and the teenagers will, too, because they’ll be with friends.

Car wash: We don’t think we need to explain this one. Or are you one of those people who washes their car every Saturday morning?

 

Any of these ideas catch your fancy? Contact Kristy White at kwhite@autismsociety-nc.org or 919-865-5086 to talk it over. ASNC would love your support!

Big Sister Takes Lessons to Heart

Sydney and Charlie Ramey

 

Sydney Ramey has learned many things from her younger brother, Charlie, like how to be patient and responsible. Sydney is 17 and Charlie, who has autism, is 14.

Sydney says she also has learned from Charlie that “sometimes it’s best just to throw away your cares and laugh till it hurts.”

That’s not all she’s throwing because of her brother’s inspiration. Sydney is a rising senior at Ravenscroft School in Raleigh, where she is the pitcher on the softball team. This spring, she created a fundraiser called Strikeout Autism, in which she sought pledges for each strike she threw. She ended the season with 764 strikes and 43 strikeouts and raised $2,082.40, which she donated to the Autism Society of North Carolina and Charlie’s school, Just Right Academy.

Sydney’s family has a history of supporting ASNC. In 2009, they helped organize a fundraiser with the Carolina Mudcats baseball team in Zebulon, which raised more than $4,000. Their company, Creative Business Interiors Inc., has also served as sponsors for the Triangle Run/Walk for Autism and provided thousands of dollars’ worth of furniture for ASNC’s offices.

“It was important for me to help the ASNC and my brother’s school, because I’ve seen them both touch lives. From early on in my life, I’ve heard and seen what ASNC does for autistic people and their families and I wanted to be a part of that,” Sydney said. Just Right Academy has “an exceptional staff and bright, wonderful students. It makes me glad to hear what my brother and his friends conquer each day when they go to school.”

“I’ve learned so much just by watching him grow and experience the world,” Sydney said. “Autistic people don’t have to be coddled because what they do and accomplish every day makes them stronger than most people. They deserve our respect and to be treated like everyone else.”

In many ways, Charlie is just like everyone else, Sydney said.

“Like any little brother, he likes to play tricks on me. When we go to the beach, he walks around the pool with his water gun and squirts people (mainly my dad and I). Charlie also loves the water, so we spend a lot of time at the lake, where we swim, ride on the boat, and go tubing.”

Charlie is also very creative and enjoys drawing and creating videos on his iPad, Sydney said. “Charlie has a very infectious sense of humor, so we spend a lot of time watching funny videos and joking around.”

Being Charlie’s sister has influenced Sydney in a positive way.

“Because of my brother, I enjoy volunteering at places like The Autism Society, Just Right Academy, and Special Olympics,” Sydney said. “I like to think that by having Charlie as my brother, I have become a better, stronger person. For this I am truly blessed.”

ASNC is honored to be the recipient of Sydney’s generosity and creativity! If you would like to learn more about how to create your own fundraiser for ASNC, click here.