For the past few months, I have been taking a look at my local community and their needs as far as special needs go. I have noticed one constant amongst the minority communities in particular: they have heard of autism, but do not know too much else. They know a few symptoms, but not all of them. They do not know how to navigate the school system with an autistic child or teen. They do not always know how to speak up for their child or teen. Finally, they often have no idea what to do once that child/teen becomes an adult. This isn’t everyone, but it is noticeable enough to raise my eyebrows.
I also listened to and observed the local therapists and providers in my area. First of all, there is only ABA, and nearly all of those agencies are booked and have long waitlists. Second, my county apparently has a less than stellar reputation therapy-wise than its larger counterparts to the south. Third, there are a number of therapists/professionals who have little to no experience with autistic clients. Fourth, many agencies cannot see clients on the spectrum because of number three. All of this equates to what I’m calling a “services desert.” There are services, but they are scarce. I want to change this.
Finally, I figure that my community cannot be the only one dealing with this. So I want to hear from other professionals. Not just from Florida, and not just in the United States, either. I want to hear from as many as possible. Do you live in a similar “services desert?” How can we educate those in our communities? If you are local to me (South Florida area), do you want to team up with my business to help spread awareness AND acceptance? For minority communities in particular, there simply has to be better access to services for our kids, teens, and adults on the spectrum.
Parents/guardians and families, I want to hear from you as well. What do you want to know more about? Autism symptoms? The therapeutic approaches? How to navigate the school system? Parenting techniques? I’m hoping to start a series (probably video) that can answer some of your questions. If enough people have similar questions, we can do a workshop similar to the ones below.
Those on the spectrum, I especially want to hear from you! What do you feel is lacking in autism education? What would’ve made your school and work experiences better?
I want to hear from all of you. Let’s connect:
SPARC Classes: Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information!
These classes vary with the audience, but the main goal is to introduce autism to those new to its world. Whether you have a recently diagnosed family member, or are being introduced to clients on the spectrum, this interactive and multi-styled training can show you what autism is, what it is like, and the various therapeutic approaches used to make lives change for the better. Both trainings are regularly updated with new information or research findings, and can be tailored to the age level.
Autism: The Experience
This class focuses on introducing participants to the world of autism. What it is, its highlighted symptoms, and video experiences of those on the spectrum are included in this training. The goal is to promote neurodiversity, and to build the empathy of those who may not understand the condition, but want to learn. Presentation handouts (with references for further learning) and a Q&A with the presenter round out this training, which can range from 30 minutes to 1.5 hours depending on the needs of the audience. This training in particular can be tailored for children and teenagers to help introduce them to autistic peers’ experiences and build empathy.
Slightly different from The Experience, this training highlights the various therapeutic approaches to autism and current research on the subject. The goal of this training is to gain both empathy and professional knowledge of autism. This training also includes an interactive exercise to experience the sensory distractions for an autistic person in a classroom (of any age). Presentation handouts with references and a Q&A with the presenter are including in this training. The training usually lasts about an hour, but can be adjusted with the needs of the group. This training works best with about 10-15 participants.