Jane Grimes - Guest Blogger: Founder and President-Hamilton County Autism Support Group
April is Autism Awareness Month
and I wanted to take the time to express my sincere thanks for all the support and training that Conner Prairie has invested and continues to invest in their overall Conner Prairie experience for children with autism and other special needs
. Many of you know that I am genuinely passionate about autism and our community with the role that I play as Founder and President of the Hamilton County Autism Support Group
. I was humbled to be involved in the autism training and with my firsthand experience as a parent of a child with autism, I have to say that our experiences on the grounds have been much more fun. Simple things like quiet areas and staff realizing that our children with autism may need to learn things a bit differently or have smaller groups to incorporate learning has been great!
One thing that I have been in awe about over the past months is how our young adult and adult community with autism has increased and experiencing their feedback. Many people with autism are visual thinkers and need visual experiences to learn. Conner Prairie naturally has this in many of their experiences on their grounds; however our adult population has just discovered how great a place Conner Prairie is for them. I often wonder how other organizations can make such small changes to adapt and collaborate together to strengthen their connection to the autism community.
Did you know that 40% of individuals with autism are non-verbal? Did you know that Indiana is the 7th highest state today with the highest prevalence of autism in the US? Social deficits are significant in most individuals with autism so they are challenged with one-on-one discussions as well as group discussions.
I work at The Applied Behavior Center for Autism where many of our children are extremely excited to be able to go to Conner Prairie on a regular basis and experience programs and activities. Our center works one on one with children with Autism and Down Syndrome to help increase language and decrease behaviors in a world that is already confusing-organizations like Conner Prairie help our communities become a better place in the world by including our children and individuals who have daily challenges.
I encourage Conner Prairie to keep doing what you are doing…..we so appreciate your support, encouragement and positive experiences. My advice next in thinking into the future: employ more individuals with disabilities and try to envision Summer Camps for individuals with disabilities to experience community. Thanks for all you do!!