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Calls to Action

Family Services Community Grants Funded

Family Services Community Grants Funded
December 18, 2008 - Autism Speaks is pleased to announce the third round of Family Services Community Grants. These grants will help community organizations across the country expand existing programs to serve more individuals with autism, and create new programs that demonstrate true innovation in providing services to improve and enrich the lives of individuals with autism spectrum disorders (ASD). All proposals addressed one of the four identified areas of need: education, recreation/community activities, equipment/supportive technology, or young adult/adult services.

“Service providers across the country are doing truly remarkable and innovative work to enhance the quality of life for those living with autism,” said Peter Bell, Autism Speaks Executive Vice President of Programs and Services. “We are delighted to support their efforts and encourage others to replicate these model programs.”

Recreation/Community Activities
Young Adult and Adult Services
Equipment and Supportive Technology

*Final Report: Click here to see the Final Report from the 2009 Family Services Community Grant recipients.

Identified Area of Need – Education

CHIME Institute
Woodland Hills, CA

Paraprofessional ASD Training for Inclusion (PATI)

The CHIME Institute's PATI (Paraprofessional ASD Training for Inclusion) project addresses critical educational needs for students with ASD in the Los Angeles area.
Specifically, PATI addresses the need to: (1) train paraprofessionals to effectively support students with ASD and their families in inclusive early education, elementary, and middle school programs and, (2) increase the capacity of service providers in the local school districts to provide high-quality educational programs to students on the autism spectrum. In addition to enhancing CHIME's programs for students with ASD, PATI will directly impact the quality of education for students with ASD throughout the Greater Los Angeles Area.

Significance for people with autism: This project will enhance the skills of paraprofessionals working with students with ASD in addition to expanding the field of trained professionals. The result is a more positive and successful school experience for students on the spectrum.

Youth Development Clinic, Inc
Newark, NJ

Hands-On Training for Autism

The goal of this proposal is to address the need for trained autism professionals in the Newark metro area by providing quality, hands on training using evidence based model. It is expected that by providing training, professional consultation, and support for staff, school districts in the low income communities in the Newark area will be able to increase in district educational services for children with autism spectrum disorders.

Significance for people with autism: This proposal will provide multi session, hands-on training to school district personnel to better work with students with ASD. The result will be that more students can be educated in their home school district.
*Click here to view the Youth Development Clinic report - From Neurons to Neighborhoods: A Public School Classroom Model for Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders

Kentucky Valley Special Educational Cooperative
Hazard, KY

Strategies for Teaching Based on Autism Research Initiative

The purpose of this proposal is to increase teacher knowledge and consistent implementation of instructional methods appropriate for students with ASD. The project will provide 60 teachers with the opportunity to attend the 2-day comprehensive STAR workshop. During the workshop, participants will learn the techniques of discrete trial training, pivotal response training, and teaching functional routines. Participants will receive examples of the STAR Autism program lesson plans at each instructional level in order to practice their skills in implementing the program. Immediately following the 2-day comprehensive STAR workshop, four classrooms will be set up within the Kentucky Valley Special Educational Cooperative service area as model STAR classrooms. Hands-on training and consultation will take place in order to further educate the participants of the training.

Significance for people with autism:The primary beneficiaries of this project are the students with ASD that will be taught using evidence based practices. In addition, this project will help to build the field of trained educators.

Autism Society of the Panhandle
Pensacola, FL

Kids for Camp Summer Learning Lab

The aim of this proposal is to provide ongoing and supervised teacher training during summer camp. This is the expansion of a successful program that provides a day camp environment for students with ASD where they can work on social and academic skills. Many of the coaches and teachers for the camp are employed as classroom teachers during the school year. The camp offers behavioral based training under the supervision of a BCBA to teachers before camp starts. Once camp is in session the teachers work with the children under the supervision of the behavioral consultant. The result is two fold, the students with ASD can continue to develop skills and avoid substantial regression over the summer months, and the classroom teachers have been provided with six weeks of hands on training to more effectively educate students with ASD during the school year.

Significance for people with autism:The grant proposes to expand the number of trained teachers in the Pensacola area and provide extended school year services to students with ASD. This is a model that could be replicated in other areas of the country.
*Click here to see a slideshow report on Camp for Kids 2009.

Hurst Wood Education Foundation & Clear Horizons Academy
Provo, UT

Parent P.R.E.P (Pre-school Readiness and Education Program)

The Parent P.R.E.P pilot will create a formalized, hands-on training model that aims to educate parents with children (ages 1-3) in a school-based and home setting. To best serve the growing number of families with children with ASD in Utah, Clear Horizons Academy seeks to create a systematic method of training parents with children with ASD to promote healthy child development during the critical growth periods of ages 1-3. This project will advance the cause of creating intensive early intervention services for children with ASD and their families. The Parent P.R.E.P pilot will provide the skills necessary for parents to adequately address their child's development. It is estimated that 100 individuals will be served with the funding from Autism Speaks (up to 50 parents and 50 children).

Significance for people with autism: This program will provided training to parents of children with ASD that will help them to work more effectively with their child. In addition this will provide families with skills to enhance their child's development while they are on the waiting list for Early Intervention Services.

Wings Learning Center
Burlingame, CA

Autism Teacher Training Program

Wings Learning Center (WLC) has developed a classroom-based teacher training model that allows teachers-in-training to obtain practical skills and hands-on experience in a classroom with a focus on serving students with ASD. The structure of the program allows for various levels of support, training and a practical experience in classrooms serving children with moderate to severe level of autism, ages 6 to 18. Partnering with local Universities, the project will recruit, prepare and graduate 15 Special Education Teachers over a 5 year period. The Autism Teacher Training Program is designed to provide the teacher with practical experience and strategies in an autism specific classroom. The areas covered during the training program are the following: leadership and supervision, child-centered curriculum development, development of Individual Education Plan goals and objectives, data collection and presentation, parent communication and problem resolution. Teachers in training receive preparation in research based knowledge and evidence-based practices for working effectively with students on the autism spectrum.

Significance for people with autism:This proposal will serve to build the field of Special Education teachers specifically trained to educate students with ASD. This program has the ability to be manualized and replicated.

Identified Area of Need – Recreation

Carey Services
Marion, IN

Face Place Theater Project

Carey Services proposes to develop a program that specifically targets the social and communication skill challenges faced by individuals with ASD. Based on the work of Drs. Parasuram Ramamoorthi and Andrew Nelson, the Founders of the Applied Theatre Research and Autism Network, the program uses acting techniques and applied theater theory to improve these skills in a safe and entertaining venue. The program will serve up to 20 school-aged children with ASD in a studio environment.

Significance for people with autism: This program has the ability to be replicated throughout the country, to enhance the communication and social skills of individuals with ASD.
*Click here to view the JFP Movie Program.
*Click here to view the press release: "Jr. FacePlace Goes International"

Rolling Thunder Special Needs Program (RTSNP)
Shirley, NY

Expand Rolling Thunder Running Team Promoting Inclusion, Fitness, and Social Skills for Autistic Spectrum Youth and Adults

Rolling Thunder Special Needs Program trains individuals with ASD, ages 3 through adulthood, and their family members, to participate in typical races in inclusive community settings: neighborhoods or parks throughout Long Island. RTSNP offers inclusion activities with typical peers and many opportunities to develop or improve athletic, fitness and social skills. There is never a fee for membership or coaching. No running experience is needed to join the team. All coaches are volunteers and the organization has no paid staff, there is a no wait list policy and individuals with challenging behaviors are welcome. Funding will help with the expansion plans include accepting new members, providing experienced members with new inclusion community practice activities, increasing mainstream competitions and provide uniforms for team members to practice during the winter months.

Significance for people with autism:Physical activity and fitness is important for all people and Rolling Thunder provides the supports necessary to help individuals with ASD to develop a life long skill of running. The program will work with individuals at all functioning levels. There is a strong opportunity for expansion and replication on a national scale.

Easter Seals Metropolitan Chicago
Chicago, IL

After-School Programs at Easter Seals Metropolitan Chicago Autism and Therapeutic Schools, Chicago and Tinley Park, IL campuses

The After School Program at Easter Seals will provide high quality, educationally-enhanced programming for their children at the close of the school day. Funding of this proposal will support two additional staff members and will result in increased enrollment in the program. Additionally, Easter Seals will enhance programming through the purchase of new program equipment and supplies and, more importantly, a partnership with Best Buddies Illinois (BBIL) that will provide a Peer Buddy to each After School Program participant with which he/she can engage in regularly scheduled After School Program activities, communicate via telephone and email, and attend special BBIL social events.

Significance for people with autism:The program will provide after school academic and recreational opportunities for students with ASD. In addition, the collaboration with Best Buddies provides greater acceptance and understanding of typically developing peers; and can be provided as a model for other after school programs.

Autism Delaware
Newark, DE

Expansion of the Brandywine Social Club

Autism Delaware will expand the Brandywine Social Club, a local YMCA recreation program for adults with disabilities, to include an additional 10 to 15 adults with autism. Very few options exist for Delaware adults with disabilities, particularly options which are autism-friendly, and the BSC has been northern Delaware's leader in recreation by holding a variety of events for 35 years. The emphasis on participant leadership, team work, and community integration, combined with the group's plans to initiate personal development workshops, provide a healthy environment for naturally observing or practicing skills that can be useful in personal relationships and employment while still giving participants a break from the demands of formal service programs or school.

Significance for people with autism: This proposal provides opportunities for adults with autism to participate in a local YMCA recreational program with the proper supports in place to make it successful. Based upon the success of this program, this is a model that could be rolled out to additional YMCAs across the country.

Millard Public Schools
Omaha, NE

Interactive Social Education Experiences

Millard Public Schools will conduct a recreation/community activities project to teach social communication skills to high school students with Asperger's Syndrome (AS) and/or High Functioning Autism (HFA). The demonstration project is designed around peer modeling with frequent peer interaction and generalization in the community. Primary beneficiaries will be freshmen and sophomores with AS/HFA who manifest serious deficits in the social communication skills needed to develop effective interpersonal relationships. They will be placed in Friendship Groups consisting of two students with AS/HFA, a typically developing peer who has completed prior ASD awareness training, and one teacher. Friendship Groups will attend weekly social communication skills workshops taught by the teachers in the group, using curriculum tailored for each student. Homework will require personal communication between the students with AS/HFA and the typical peer in each Friendship Group. All Friendship Groups, along with the parents of students with AS/HFA, will attend monthly social outings in the community to generalize their newly learned skills.

Significance for people with autism: This program will increased social skills and expand the interactions of people with ASD with their typically developing peers. Again, there is the ability to replicate this program.

University of Florida CARD
Gainesville, FL

Inclusive Summer Camp for Students with Autism Spectrum Disorders

This camp project facilitates the inclusion of children with autism into community day camps with support. A Project Manager will recruit campers with autism from the 14 county area served by CARD - Gainsville. CARD staff will work with families to identify goals for the camp so that specific skills may be targeted and training to camp staff members can be tailored to the needs of the children. The Project will support contracted personnel to provide capacity building training sessions for day camp staff members and university and high school volunteers in the community. The Project will offer ongoing support to camp staff and volunteers during the two weeks of camp as they work to include children with autism in camp activities with typical peers. Through this project CARD can build the capacity of day camp sites to offer camp opportunities to children with autism with minimal supports from outside resources.

Significance for people with autism: The proposal will increase the field of services providers and day camp opportunities for children with ASD

Outdoors for All Foundation
Seattle, WA

Expanded Outdoor Recreation Experiences Customized for Children and Adults with ASDs

Outdoors for All Foundation will expand the number and quality of outdoor recreation experiences for children and adults living with ASD and their friends and family members. Key measurable objectives of the program will include: to serve 50 additional individuals with disabilities in our year round adaptive recreation programs; increase training hours for all staff and volunteers on issues of autism; design and establish a week-long adventure camp for teens with high functioning autism – benefiting at least ten participants; and obtain and implement sensory regulation equipment into the programs, as well as the design and creation of an Autism Tool Kit which will help staff and volunteers in the field ensure that participants with ASD will have a fun, safe and enriching outdoor recreation experience.

Significance for people with autism: Individuals with ASD will benefit from an increase in recreational and camping experiences. In addition, staff and volunteers will gain valuable information and training which will result in enhanced interactions with people with ASD.
*Click here to view the Instructional Arrangements & Strategies for People with Autism presentation by Blueprints.
*Click here to view the Autism Spectrum Disorder "cheat sheet" for trainees.
*Click here to view Tips for Working with Participants with Autism.
*Click here to view Social Stories for snow-related activities.

Arthur Ashe Youth Tennis and Education (AAYTE)
Philadelphia, PA

Special Serve - Tennis and Life Skills Program

AAYTE has a staff that is trained to utilize various teaching methodologies that are effective with ASD, AAYTE's Special Serve program has become a successful non-traditional recreational and educational option. Funding from Autism Speaks will enable AAYTE to meet the increasing demands for growth of this successful program. During the daytime school hours, AAYTE has an opportunity to expand programming to its full capacity for ASD students by working with local school districts to provide tennis instruction in a fun and nurturing environment.

Significance for people with autism: Students with ASD will have the opportunity to learn a new sport from qualified staff that is experienced working with people with autism. This program has the ability to be replicated.
*Click here to read "Learn to Rally and Play: Practice Plans and Tips for Coaching Kids Ages 5-17.

Best Buddies New York
New York, NY

Best Buddies LI Middle and High School Expansion Project

The Best Buddies Long Island Middle and High School Expansion Project will enhance the lives of students with developmental disabilities by providing them with opportunities for one-to-one friendships with their non-disabled peers. The Best Buddies program will strengthen efforts to serve youth with autism through student leadership training, community engagement and public awareness activities. The project will ultimately generate 660 new Best Buddies friendships and raise tolerance and awareness of students with developmental disabilities.

Significance for people with autism: People with ASD will have the opportunity to increase their social skills and further their participation in age appropriate recreational programs. This program can continued to be expanded through Best Buddies groups throughout the country.

Identified Area of Need – Young Adults/Adults

Autism Services Association
Wellesley Hills, MA

Employment & Community Accessibility for Young Adults with ASD Transitioning from School to Work

The proposed program would provide for a broad array of job development services which would enhance attitudinal accessibility and increase employment for young adults with autism, in particular those transitioning from education to adult life. All levels of the autism spectrum disorder will be served. The program will include employments supports, and a cadre of current employers with positive experiences that will be expanded as a result of this funding.

Significance for people with autism: This program would provide job development as well as employment opportunities for adults with ASD. It is significant that all functioning levels will be served. There is the ability to replicate this program.
*Click here to view a slideshow presentation about this program.

Asperger's Association of New England
Watertown, MA

Destination Independence

The Asperger's Association of New England (AANE) will conduct a pilot demonstration project to help adults with AspergerSyndrome (AS) learn skills necessary to functioning as independent, employment-ready adults. The first component of Destination Independence is a series of four, 6-session workshops, each focusing on one of these key areas. AANE will hire a Life Management Skills Trainer to adapt existing curriculum materials to suit the concrete, visual learning styles of adults with AS, and lead the workshops along with an Assistant Trainer. Guest speakers will address specific topics. For each workshop, AANE will recruit a compatible group of eight adults with AS, ranging in age from 18-40, who are ready and able to learn these skills. For the second component of the program, the Life Management Skills Trainer will spend an average of 6 hours a week conducting individual tutorial sessions, as needed, to help participants integrate the newly learned skills into their daily lives.

Significance for people with autism: The project would provide necessary life skills and supports to gain greater independence for individuals with Asperger Syndrome.

University of South Florida CARD
Tampa, FL

Learning Academy at the University of South Florida

The Learning Academy at the University of South Florida is a two year, four semester transitional program designed to help students with Autism Spectrum Disorder achieve a life of opportunity, independence and success. The goals for the program are to provide a rich experience through coursework to enable students to enhance and advance their job seeking or college preparation skills; to provide an inclusive, authentic experience for students with disabilities with age appropriate peers that provides classroom based and experiential learning; to increase personal knowledge and technical skills of each participant that leads to successful adult experiences; to improve the ability of participants to find and maintain employment; to provide experiential opportunities that lead to successful career and employment outcomes and to improve the ability of participants to gain college acceptance and social and academic success.

Significance for people with autism: The program will develop the skills necessary for individuals with ASD to pursue employment and/or a college experiences.
*Click here to view the Learning Academy brochure.

Commonwealth Autism Service
Richmond, VA

Transition Helpbook Dissemination and Training

Commonwealth Autism Service has designed a training program for families and interested service providers that would be initiated through the current Commonwealth Autism Service Autism Action Groups in six regions of Virginia, encompassing over 45 school divisions and 20,000 square miles. The initial six regions include some rural and difficult to access areas of Virginia as well as the highest areas of child poverty as measured by Virginia Department of Education. The Project includes dissemination of printed copies of the Transition Helpbook to 200 families and copies on CD to service providers to assist additional families in accessing this resource. Two training sessions plus follow-up services will also be provided.

Significance for people with autism: The Transition training and Helpbook dissemination will provide important information about resources and the transition process to many families affected by ASD in several areas of Virginia. Based upon the success of this project, the information may be tailor to the needs of families in other states.

Foundation for Educating Children with Autism
Mt. Kisco, NY

Vocational Training Education Program

The Vocational Training Education Program at Devereux Millwood Learning Center (DMLC) teaches students to obtain and retain salaried employment in the general community upon graduation. The staff and parents at DMLC believe, and research has shown, that people with autism can function independently at jobs that are suited to their strengths and abilities, as long as the specific tasks involved in the job are taught to mastery criterion. To match students' abilities with vocational opportunities, the parents and staff complete a vocational preference inventory. This inventory serves to evaluate what type of job the student would enjoy, as well as what type of job the student has the ability to perform. Once this assessment is complete, a job that matches the criteria is found. Students learn their vocational skills at many community non-profits organizations such as FoodBank, SPCA, Muscular Dystrophy Association and The American Red Cross where volunteerism plays an important role.

Significance for people with autism: Strong collaborations with non-profit organizations and the ability to provide a successful roadmap for employment opportunities for individuals with ASD.
*Click here to read the FECA Program Model.

Identified Area of Need – Equipment/Supportive Technology

Developmental Disabilities Institute
Smithtown, NY

Adult Assistive Technology Program

This proposal aims to develop a new program within DDI to enhance the communicative ability of individuals with limited expressive and receptive language skills. The Adult Assistive Technology Project will begin with the acquisition of a variety of tools that can enhance communicative abilities for an initial group of 30 adults with ASD, as well as increase supplies to administer alternative and augmentative speech and assistive technology evaluations. By utilizing new computer hardware and software, as well as both mid- and high-tech Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) devices, DDI speech pathologists will be able to appropriately evaluate participants and determine eligibility for individual purchases of AAC devices.

Significance for people with autism: This project will provide adults with ASD the opportunity to sample AAC devices that may enhance their receptive and expressive language skills. As AAC technology has advanced many adult with autism may not have had the opportunity to sample the devices that are more readily available to children through educational entitlements.
*Click here to view a presentation from DDI about the Adult Assistive Technology Project.