Riverside DD offers Local support for autism

MIAMI COUNTY — With much information in the media during Autism Awareness Month in April, Riverside Developmental Disabilities has boosted efforts to meet the growing needs of families affected by autism in Miami County.

Riverside has an Autism Team that includes developmental specialists, as well as physical, occupational and speech therapists, to meet the needs of children with autism, the fastest growing developmental disability in the U.S.

In response to increased local need, Riverside’s Autism Team developed materials and resources to offer support and encouragement for families. The team recently began giving out “Autism Boxes” to families of children with new diagnoses, after realizing that parents new to the autism journey were feeling overwhelmed and fearful about what the future would hold.

“Our team calls the resource ‘The Autism Box: A Guide to Your Journey’ because we want families to feel as much support as possible upon receiving a diagnosis for their child,” said Brian Green, superintendent at Riverside. “As a parent of a grown child with autism, I know these resources would have been a welcome source of support for my family had they been available 20 years ago.”

The Autism Box includes a variety of items that provide information about evidence-based best practices for interventions in autism. The contents include: a DVD with vignettes of various autism treatments, toys for sensory stimulation, a magnet with tips for dealing with meltdowns and information cards that define autism. The box also includes a lively book that was recently donated to Riverside by Sesame Street. The book features a new character named Julia who is a delightful representation of the common characteristics of autism.

In the early stages, ten boxes were distributed to professionals and families in the community and feedback regarding the contents of the box were incorporated into the final version. The Autism Box is given free of charge to families impacted by autism.

“We hope that ‘The Autism Box: A Guide to Journey’ finds its way into many homes, allowing families affected by autism to feel informed, supported and hopeful about their futures,” Green said.

For more information about services for autism through Riverside, visit www.riversidedd.org or call 440-3000.

Riverside serves more than 950 people in Miami County with developmental disabilities. Riverside’s mission is to empower people with developmental disabilities to live, work and play as full members of our community. Riverside’s vision is to build a community that supports and values people of ALL abilities. The organization offers service coordination and funding for residential care, adult day services and job training. Riverside also provides case management, early intervention, physical/occupational and speech therapies, recreational activities, Special Olympics programs, community housing coordination and other valuable services to people of all ages who have developmental disabilities.