The Autism Project of Southern Ohio (APSO) continues to thrive, through it’s membership and continued expansion, according to Michael Bell, current president of (APSO).
“The Autism Project is thriving. It is doing great. With this new presidency, what I want to focus on is more scholarships. Last year, we gave out seven scholarships worth $700 each, so this year I’d like to see that number increase,” Bell said. “We have also expanded. We now have an Autism Project in Lawrence County. For the upcoming year, I am looking at possibly putting an Autism Project in Jackson County.”
Implementing the Smart 911 System is also among Bell’s endeavors for the coming year.
“Also, for my platform this year, I would really like to work again on the Smart 911 System, which is a system that will allow people to go in and put in information into a box. For instance, my son has autism, so I can have that information put into a box that he has autism,”he said. “Or if a person has a child that is non-verbal I can put that information into a box and that box will be connected to an address or a telephone number or that address, so that if an emergency comes up with that telephone number or that address, that box will automatically pop up for first responders to have information already in their possession before they go out, telling them that there is an autistic child at that location, this child is non-verbal. This gives the first responders an idea of what they may encounter.”
Though the Smart 911 System is not operating yet in Scioto County, Bell said he will continue to take action to make it possible.
“We are not in the Smart 911 System yet because it has to go through the county to have it put in,” he said. “I know that the system does work, because right now Grove City utilizes it, and I have talked to the State House Representative for the Grove City area, and she is the one who backed it. So I want to advocate for this, to bring it to people’s attention to get this system put in place for Scioto County and Lawrence County. It doesn’t have to be specifically geared toward autism. It could be geared toward elderly people, or a person with Multiple Sclerosis. “
There are two major events coming up in the spring for APSO.
“Our next project is the Autism Awareness Day, which will be April 2nd, and that is world wide day for autism, so we are preparing for our benefit that will be held at Jim Dandy’s,” he said. “Also in April is the Autism Walk, which will be held on the last Saturday in April at Millbrook Park in New Boston, so that is also something that we look forward to each year.”
Providing opportunities for members of APSO to get out and interact with others in the community is paramount.
“Throughout the year we have multiple activities that we do with the children, such as taking them to the movies, and taking them out into the public to do different things. Our plan for 2017 is to have some type of activity every month to take the kids to,” he said. “The biggest thing about autism is social skills, and interacting with others. I call them CBI trips, community-based instruction trips, so our goal is to get the kids out into the community.”
APSO also is concerned with assisting the adult members of APSO, he said.
“We had been working on another project, which is the Adult Autism Project,” he said. “This project was actually started by Jodie Walker, a previous president for the Autism Project. Jodie opened up and group and it was called the Adult Autism Cooperative, and that is where she focused on the adult segment of the autism spectrum to help adults who have autism with things such as job training, or possibly enter college. We have adults in our group that attend Shawnee State University. So, Jodie had been working with that until she was diagnosed with cancer, but she is going to beat it. When she is feeling better, I know that we will continue with the work on this project.”
The Autism Project of Southern Ohio meets every second Saturday of each month at the New Boston Community Center at 6 p.m. Anyone who has an autistic child, or interested with helping with the group is welcome to attend, according to Bell.
“Everyone is welcome, you may be a grandmother trying to raise an autistic child, we encourage you to come to a meeting, and join us,” he said. “Our main objective is to advocate, education and raise awareness. I want everyone to know about the Autism Project of Southern Ohio, and for everyone to be involved with the Project to make life better for their child.”
The Autism Project is a 501c3 non-profit organization, of which all proceeds are for the benefit of the children of the Project. Donations may be mailed to P.O Box 888, Portsmouth, Ohio 45662.
For more information regarding the Autism Project, visit: autismproject.info.com, or visit the Autism Project of Southern Ohio Facebook page.
Reach Portia Williams at 740-464-3862, or on Twitter @PortiaWillPDT.