Local autism parent support group picks up steam with educational programming

Published 3:03 pm Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Formed last May, the Polk County/Foothills Autism Parent Support Group is growing fast.&bsp; The groups purpose is to build a place where people can access resources, participate in educational forums, and receive support in dealing with the diverse issues that arise when raising kids on the autism spectrum.

The group has compiled a list of mental health resources, with the idea being that it should be open to everyone for ongoing updates. Attendees of the meetings decided to have the group officially become a chapter of the Autism Society of N.C. Backing by the Autism Society of N.C. gives the community more opportunities to provide an educational focus and to seek support through professional parent advocates of the national and local organization.

Reaching out to Polk County, Hendersonville, Rutherfordton, Forest City and everywhere in between, the local support group also encourages families from Landrum and upstate South Carolina to attend. Co-founder Tracey Daniels explains, In coming up with our official name, we brainstormed the best title to accurately represent our intended outreach.&bsp; Landrum and upstate S.C. families are also close to us in proximity and support efforts. Many of our families attending the meetings cross state lines (both ways) to get appropriate service due to health insurance issues, recommended doctors/therapist, and logistics of home, school and work. We need to collect and gather information on a regional level. We felt strongly that Polk County/Foothills Area Chapter would be the best fit.

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The group plans to host a lecture/speaker at each monthly meeting. The topics will be diverse and relevant to all aspects of living with autism. The meetings are held the first Tuesday of the month at the Polk County Public Library (Columbus Library) at 6 p.m. The atmosphere is friendly and casual.

Daniels further explains, We have been thrilled with the number of parents that have joined us since May. Some parents come every month. Some attended randomly or depending on the program topic. The important message we want to get out to the community of parents, educators and service providers is that we are here for support. Representatives from our local schools have attended the programming, too. It is a wonderful atmosphere of friendship, pro-active learning and problem solving.

Those in attendance of the November 2 meeting will watch a DVD called Autism Alternatives by Dr. James Biddle of Asheville Integrative Medicine regarding combining medical approaches with complimentary approaches to treating autism (micronutrients, food allergies, toxins, etc.). This DVD features information from a DAN doctor (Defeat Autism Now). A discussion of the material and networking opportunity will follow. &bsp;

For the December 7 meeting, the Polk County/Foothills Area Parent Support Group will host a special event with guest speaker Jean Alvarez. A Workshop for Siblings will be open to all parents and all siblings of those who are on the autistic spectrum.

For more information about the autism parent support group, contact Tracey Daniels at tracey@mmpublicity.com. Put support group in the subject line.