Thank You To Many Thoughtful Committed Citizens - 11/26/14
I am particularly thankful (okay, and some would say emotional) this Thanksgiving. Fifteen years after my son’s diagnosis, I think I am now an old timer in the autism world, both personally and professionally. This anniversary is an important time to reflect on our journey. Margaret Mead’s words represent what I think is the drive behind the progress and change we’ve seen in the last decade and a half in the autism community. There are many small groups of thoughtful committed citizens I’ve had the honor to be a part of that enabled our organization to grow and they should be recognized for changing the status quo of education, research, play and support for people with an autism spectrum disorder.
It was a small group of educators and therapists who, out of concern for understanding how to support more students with autism, committed thousands of personal hours to learn how to help their students be more successful in their school, community and home. I am thankful for the founding mothers of The Autism Project for putting the needs of so many ahead of their own. The parents’ voice remains an integral part of all of our work at The Autism Project because this small group placed great value on our knowledge, experiences and role on our children’s teams. People with autism spectrum disorders, parents and professionals across Rhode Island and the United States know so much more today because of this group’s initiative, research and hard work.
The Rhode Island Consortium for Autism Research and Treatment (RI-CART) is a small public-private group that includes the state’s leading experts on autism research, education, health, families, and advocacy. Their goal is to enroll every person with an autism spectrum disorder into a central research database. The purpose is improved outcomes because of better, more collaborative research, an accurate profile of individuals with ASD in RI; and, a better community for providers, families and individuals with ASD. RI-CART is in its early stages, but the uniquely collaborative model will set the stage for more targeted research of all kinds for better treatments, educational strategies and advocacy at both the state and national level.
It was a small passionate group of engineers and other employees of Hasbro, Inc. that created ToyBoxTools.com, a FREE web-based program that provides PlayBooks, Video Models, PlayMats and many other visual supports to teach people with developmental disabilities how to play. They too committed many hours above and beyond their day jobs to meet our campers, see visual supports in actions and to work with us to combine ideas and efforts to make play more accessible. Now our children can realize the joy of play with toys their siblings and friends already play with.
Thank you to the small group of employees, board of directors, committee members, volunteers, and parents connected to The Autism Project who together built a safe haven and rich program of support, training and professional development, consultation, social development, summer camp and advocacy so we can all be better in our role to improve the quality of life for individuals with an ASD. Your tireless work to know the latest research and theories and how we will use them to teach important educational, social and life skills keeps me in awe each day.
Finally, thank you to the many individuals with an ASD who we’ve met or worked with and their families and caregivers who entrust them to us. Your triumphs and challenges fuel our fire (to borrow a phrase from our camp director) and teach us each day.
I wish you all a safe and happy Thanksgiving.