(October 18, 2014) - On Saturday, the Autism Speaks Chicagoland Chapter hosted their 2nd annual Early Access to Care one-day screening event in the south side of Chicago. The volunteer driven event was led by Chapter Board Chair Laurie Chern and sponsored by Deb and Ahmad Islam, founders of Gabriel’s Horn.
Parents had the opportunity to have their questions answered by volunteer clinicians during their one hour appointment. The clinicians provided free screenings to the children and important information to empower the family to take the crucial next steps. Teams of clinical volunteers include social workers, developmental psychologists, physicians and pediatric neurologists from institutions such as University of Illinois-Chicago and Rush University Medical Center. During their visit, families were assisted by a “family buddy” who walked them through the screening event, answering any questions the family may have had. A supervised play area with activities and healthy snacks were available for children to enable parents to fully engage in conversations with their clinical team. After the family and child completed their appointment with a volunteer clinician, they then received recommendations on appropriate resources and local service providers. These local resources will be available for families to meet with at the event as part of the Community Resource Fair. With the support of their family buddy, they had the opportunity to connect with service providers in their local communities that can immediate information and guidance.
Early Access to Care’s community partners are Gabriel’s Horn, Educare of Chicago, Rush University Medical Center, Northwestern Neurodevelopmental Disabilities Laboratory, University of Illinois-Chicago LEND, The Autism Program of Illinois, The Arc of Illinois, and Chicagoland Autism Connection,
Autism Speaks Board of Director, Holly Robinson-Peete conducted a radio interview on Chicago’s WGCI, encouraging families and the local community to get involved. Local ambassadors A dedicated team of volunteers reached out early development centers, schools, places of worship, social service agencies and businesses to spread the word about this very important event.
We were fortunate to serve over 30 families with this fully-sponsored and volunteer driven community event.