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Where can parents of children with Autism go for help? Doctors and therapists often recommend assistive technology, weighted blankets, or even dogs for service and emotional support. But, where to begin? And how do parents afford the laundry list of suggested supports for their children?
In 2016, Missy contacted the Thomas Enzerra Autism Project with social, behavioral, and educational questions and concerns regarding her child. Referrals were made to the Project's parent volunteers and to agencies like the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission for the educational concerns.
With the volunteers, Missy was able to discuss her concerns with other parents of children with Autism. The Project was able to coordinate a support team for Missy to identify items, provide training, and offer support for her child. Missy identified sensory items and a weighted blanket that she felt her child would benefit from, but she was reluctant to act because of the costs.
Donations from Washington County businesses and friends have enabled the Thomas Enzerra Autism Project to have an impact on the lives of children with Autism. Missy's child could now go into the chaos of a store and be able to wear the blanket to offset anxiety. She received the tools and guidance to help her child with routine outings in the community.
According to Paula Enzerra, creator of the Thomas Enzerra Autism Project, "Autism is individual with each family stumbling on their journey." She explained that the Project's focus is on the family and providing a compass for the family to navigate their brand of Autism. The Project's mission is to promote instructional, behavioral, and communicative needs of autistic children using a community approach, and to help families grow a child's independence and ability to be a member of the community.
Devon, a parent of two children suffering from Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), is forever grateful for the support and guidance that she has received from the Project. Some of the Project's events that her family has attended include a movie night, fun days, and evenings out at restaurants for dinner.
"I love how the people connect with one another and do things together. The feeling of inclusion is important in a child's life and they want to be in the fun," remarked Devon. "The Thomas Enzerra Autism Project helps families of children with ASD know that they are not alone, and helps them learn that you have to be your child's voice."
Because Autism never takes a day off and each child is unique, the Thomas Enzerra Autism Project provides support to families of children with ASD and strives to truly make an impact on lives in the community.