April is Autism Month, but unfortunately this year, it too cannot be celebrated just like most things right now, due to the Coronavirus.
The Autism Project of Southern Ohio is a great group that works with children and young adults with Autism in the area.
The Autism Project of Southern Ohio was founded in 1998. The president of the group is Michael Bell and their mission says they want to educate, advocate and raise Autism awareness and acceptance in our community while providing parent support.
The nonprofit support group for families and individuals with Autism was created by a group of parents with autistic children and was formed into a 501c3 in 2007. A board of directors and officers governs the organization. The group is all voluntary because it consists of all families with children of Autism.
According to Bell, the group has had setbacks this month, just like so many groups and businesses due to the Coronavirus. Autism month is April and it is during this month that the group has most of their fundraisers. Bell said it is their biggest fundraiser month. April the second was Autism Awareness Day and it is on this day, which is when this group normally has their Cruise-In at Jim Dandy and that had to be canceled and then during this month, they also have their Autism walk and auction and of course, that too will not happen either. They also sell Autism shirts as a fundraiser this month.
Bell said the problem with this is, they use the money for camp, their scholarships, the back to school allowances for the children and all of this stuff.
“Everything is canceled in April, so now, we are hurting.” He said that he is looking maybe in June for a couple of things, but they have to try to do this before and things aren’t the same because it is not Autism Awareness Month. “We’re just hoping and praying that everything gets lifted and we’re able to do our walk and our fundraising to get our support. I’m just really worried about the future.”
On the Autism Awareness Project Facebook page, they have the kids with Autism posted individually with a photo and some things about them, which is called, Spectrum of Possibilities, this is to highlight the kids because it is Autism Awareness Month and they want to highlight these kids and their siblings. The siblings are just as crucial to the group as the kids are. They did this last year as well and this year and they put them out again and people like it Bell said of the posts. Each kid that belongs to the group is there and they are also highlighting the siblings with what is called Sibling Spotlight because, as Bell stated, the siblings of these kids are just important as the kids with Autism.
Bell also wanted to talk about a group that they have added this year called, Adventures of Ohio and Kentucky it is a group they started Jan. 1, it is like Boy Scouts, but it’s for kids with Autism. They have 12 kids in the group and Bell says the kids named the group. They have their vest and they earn badges. This is a way to get the kids involved in the community and they were learning how to present the colors (flag). Anyone who is a member of the Autism Project group can belong.
Bell also spoke about how this virus is affecting their kids that are in school and such, having to stay at home. He said that some are having it hard because of the routine, like kids who get on a bus every day and now don’t, their routine is broken and then some got on a routine of going to school and in the Fall they will have to learn that all over again.
With April being Autism month, and so much has been lost, if anyone would like to donate to the Autism Project of Southern Ohio, they can mail a check to Autism Project of Southern Ohio, P.O. Box 888, Portsmouth, OH 45662, or there is a donate button on their Facebook page. All donations are tax-deductible as allowed under IRS law.
Visit the Autism Awareness of Southern Ohio’s Facebook page and you will surely enjoy the highlighting of these kids to celebrate Autism month.
Reach Kimberly Jenkins (740)353-3101 ext. 1928
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