In 2007 when our son was diagnosed as being on the Autism Spectrum, we were lost. The specialist at Vanderbilt handed us a package of information, and suggested that we start reading. My wife and I came to discover that our experience of being basically on our own as far as how to move forward was not unique.
When a patient has a diagnosis of cancer (a horrible disease with which I am unfortunately related), there is quite often a physician standing by with a treatment plan ready to go. With autism, as with all spectrum disorders, there is no standard treatment plan. Doctors often have no idea what to suggest other than reading; every child on the spectrum is different.
That’s where groups like Making Connections step in to fill the gap. When others offered books and platitudes, Making Connections and the friends we developed there, let us know that we weren’t alone.
Making Connections is a parent-led support network for families in Huntsville, Alabama and the surrounding region. The group strives to improve the lives of individuals affected by Autism Spectrum Disorders.
We offer parents and professionals the opportunity to meet, share, and educate with monthly meetings led by professional speakers, family outings, a lending library, and a mentoring program. We provide childcare during meetings and strive to improve the lives of our families affected by autism spectrum disorders. We are knowledge-driven and try to focus on providing information and help to our members in a positive atmosphere. We are sponsored in part by The Autism Society of Alabama.
What is Autism?
Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a range of complex neurodevelopment disorders, characterized by social impairments, communication difficulties, and restricted, repetitive, and stereotyped patterns of behavior. Autistic disorder, sometimes called autism or classical ASD, is the most severe form of ASD, while other conditions along the spectrum include a milder form known as Asperger syndrome, and childhood disintegrative disorder and pervasive developmental disorder not otherwise specified (usually referred to as PDD-NOS).
Although ASD varies significantly in character and severity, it occurs in all ethnic and socioeconomic groups and affects every age group. Males are four times more likely to have an ASD than females.
How Often Do You Meet?
Making Connections meets regularly to discuss issues of concern to families with members on the spectrum. All of our meetings are free and open to the public. We typically meet at the Faith Presbyterian Church on the corner of Whitesburg and Airport roads on one Saturday a month from 3:00 – 4:30pm. Spectrum-appropriate childcare is offered at the meetings with reservations.
What goes on at a typical meeting?
Typically, a meeting will include a presentation on a matter related to and important to families with a member on the spectrum. It’s an open forum where parents can speak openly and freely to other parents, share ideas and suggestions, and just relax knowing that your children are playing with other children.
Do you participate in other group outings or meetings?
Making Connections is a part of the Autism Society of Alabama. We participate in the Autism Matters Legislative Day, the Walk for Autism, and other family outings.
Is there anything that sets your group apart from other area programs?
Making Connections was founded eight years ago and currently has about a 700 on our mailing list. These people are comprised of families and professionals working together to help support each other, educate and make the lives of those living with autism happier. We also take on many autism awareness projects to help raise awareness in our city as well as in the schools. Our goal is to cut down on bullying and to help get the early warning signs out to parents so that the child can get started with necessary therapies as soon as possible.
Making Connections Contact Details
Dad, hubby and irritator of students and school boards alike, Russell Winn is committed to ensuring that the Huntsville City Schools provide access to the educational support system for every student. When he's not enforcing grammar rules or arguing the ethical minutia of Kant's deontology, he spends his time loving his kids, reading anything by Stephen King or Christopher Moore, and attempting to speak truth to power on behalf of special needs kids. You may follow his rants at www.geekpalaver.com or on twitter at @russwinn.