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Family Services Community Grant Recipients 2015

July 9, 2015 – Autism Speaks is pleased to announce the recipients of the newest round of Family Services Community Grants!

Nearly $200,000 has been awarded to 8 community-based organizations across the country. Each of these organizations is looking to 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 three identified areas of need: education, recreation/community activities, or young adult/adult services.

The recipients are listed below by category:

Recreation/Community Activities
Young Adult/Adult Services


Autism Insurance Resource Center
Worcester, MA

"Insurance Coverage for Wandering Devices"

Presently, there is no insurance reimbursement for wandering devices.  The cost is either paid for by the family or covered by a grant from charities, law enforcement agencies and other organizations.  This project would develop a tool kit for families and providers to use in applying for insurance coverage. The grant will be used by the Center to create the tool kit and fund a pilot study with a small group of families in Massachusetts. We will use the results of this pilot study to refine the tool kit, creating a replicable resource for families and providers to use in the rest of the country.

Behavior Change Institute
Oakland, CA

"Autism TeleECHO: Improving the Standard of Behavioral Health Care in Rural New Mexico"

Project ECHO (Extension for Community Healthcare Outcomes) is an innovative model that dramatically improves both capacity and access to specialty care for rural populations. This low-cost, high-impact intervention is accomplished by linking clinicians through teleECHO clinics, in which clinical panelists co-manage cases and share their expertise via mentoring, guidance, feedback and didactic education. The ECHO model is a guided practice model where the primary clinician retains responsibility for the patient, operating with increasing competence and independence as their skills grow. The objective of this grant is to replicate a highly effective model to treat complex cases of Autism Spectrum Disorder in rural New Mexico.

Connecticut Children's Medical Center
Hartford, CT

"Online Modules to Train Medical Staff in Best Practices for Kids with ASD During Medical Procedures"

In the Center for Procedural Excellence at our hospital, we encounter children with ASD who need procedures, painful or non-painful, requiring compliance and cooperation. A lack of knowledge on the part of the staff about the unique strengths and challenges of these children and the most effective ways to communicate with them, results in stress to an already stressed child. Sometimes this leads to an escalation in difficult behaviors resulting in the use of physical or chemical restraints and injuries.  

We plan to develop educational modules to train staff in preparing and communicating with children who have ASD, as well as manage difficult behaviors. We also propose to develop simple, age-appropriate tools that will help parents and staff familiarize these children with and gain mastery over the experiences and challenges they will encounter during the visit and the medical procedure. These best practices will be disseminated widely to other institutions and the medical community.

Growing Roots
Austin, TX

"Addressing the Divide: Psychoeducational Peer-to-Peer Autism Training for Spanish-Speaking Parents"

Despite autism’s growing prevalence, information and support for families of children with autism is most often in English, limited to the Internet, or presented in acronym-laden paperwork. This creates an impenetrable barrier for underserved Spanish-speaking parents who not only cannot access the information, but also need a culturally competent approach to understanding and processing autism. Growing Roots’ Autism Program was established to inform, connect, support and empower parents to become their child's most empowered expert. Spanish-speaking parents participate in our peer to peer Autism Course and receive Wraparound Services. With the support of Autism Speaks, Growing Roots can continue and expand its work to serve 100 Spanish-speaking families, through the parents, for the child. Through our partnerships with Seton Medical Hospital and University of Texas’ Department of Special Education, 40 special education students and 15 pediatric residents will also be provided training under this program model.

Other deliverables will include a parent friendly step by step guide to our Parent Toolkit “ Como Armar Su Carpeta de Herramientas” (How to make your Parent Toolkit), including an assembly guide and how to video. This Parent Toolkit includes sections for organizing educational and therapeutic plans, a goal setting guide, parent created tools for supporting ongoing communication with providers, as well as templates for parent-driven behavioral and developmental assessments.

Rady Children's Hospital
San Diego, CA

"Inclusive Programming for Children with Autism: Training and Tools for Community Preschools"

Rady Children’s Hospital San Diego has one of the few inclusion programs in the country with outcomes data supporting positive changes in toddlers with autism spectrum disorder, yet there are many more young children with ASD in the San Diego community without access to an inclusion program. Families are often forced to choose between a special education preschool classroom in a public school with little to no access to typical peers or a private preschool with access to typical peers, but with staff who lack experience to support and educate children with ASD. The aim of this program is to develop and provide training on inclusion programming for preschool age children and an accompanying toolkit for teachers that will be widely accessible on the Autism Speaks website.


Grandma's Place
Royal Palm Beach, FL

"Inclusive Tutoring and Group Activities"

Grandma’s Place is an emergency foster shelter for children who have been abused and/or neglected and removed from their homes by the Department of Children & Families. For children with autism in our care, we propose to implement an inclusive tutoring and social recreation program so we can provide the individualized attention, positive reinforcement, and peer interaction needed for social and scholastic skill development. Thereby, we hope to diminish the long-term negative impacts that traumatic events can have on the children’s academic future, and maximize their potential for success. A replicable program model and manual will be created for distribution to emergency foster care programs to reach more Florida children with ASD. This manual will be available on the Grandma’s Place website, and will be disseminated throughout the entire state through The Arc of Florida’s partnerships with Community-Based Care providers (CBCs).

Young Adult/Adult Services

Family Voices of North Dakota
Edgeley, ND

"Caregiver Cafe"

Family Voices of North Dakota (FVND) has assisted many families who are ill prepared for a family emergency, death of a caregiver, assisting transitioning a youth into adulthood or natural catastrophe. The oil boom in North Dakota has had a huge increase in population to all of the state, along with many pockets of New Americans and an ever increasing diverse population.  Because of this diversity and growth, training and education is widely needed. Families need appropriate tools and preparedness to be ready for any circumstance. This proposal seeks support to implement and evaluate the “Caregiver Café” through the development of curricula, training and toolkit to support families and youth with Autism Spectrum Disorder. The toolkit will provide a record keeping repository for families and youth which will prepare them for the unknown day to day changes.

Julie and Michael Tracy Family Foundation
Glenview, IL

"Growing Solutions Farm"

The Growing Solutions Farm is an urban agriculture program that is operated by the Julie + Michael Tracy Family Foundation and located in the heart of Chicago in the Illinois Medical District. The Farm is a grassroots vocational model that responds to the need for employment solutions for young adults on the Autism Spectrum.  Support from Autism Speaks will provide us with valuable resources to empower the young adults we serve. Our goal is to develop training models that simultaneously reduce the unemployment of young adults on the autism spectrum. At the end of the funding period, JMTF will share its program curriculum and a project manual which can be used for replication.  A project manual will be a month-by-month instructional guide.  

Search the Autism Speaks Grants Database to view grants we have funded in the past.

For more information about the Autism Speaks Family Services Grants program, contact Serena Selkin at