GUARDS

 

Welcome Friends!
4/2/15
 

April is Autism Awareness month. You may see blue lights, blue balloons, rainbow puzzle piece ribbons, or some other variation, all to help spread awareness about Autism. Wikipedia defines Autism as a neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by impaired social interaction, verbal and non-verbal communication, and restricted and repetitive behavior. Parents usually notice signs in the first two years of their child's life. I noticed that my son Kyle was regressing in language at about 1 ½ yrs. old. He went from 20 words to 5 over the course of a few months. No real explanation here. Could be attributed to genetics, environmental factors, maybe even vaccinations that contained mercury. 
I have had almost 18 years of Autism Awareness, we need AUTISM ACTION MONTH! Kyle is in high school and will remain within this public school district until he is 21yrs. old. It’s little comforting to know that he has this entitlement for a little over 2 years. The thought of what to do when the “bus stops coming” makes me anxious, to say the least. That is when taking the routine of school days for granted ends, and Kyle’s days will need to be strategically planned from morning to night; 24/7. Kyle will hopefully work and live in his community, but it is going to take a lot of creative planning by Kyle, but mostly by me, his Mom.
So, what would I like you to be aware of during this very special month of Autism awareness? Know that when your child gets diagnosed with Autism, you will grieve because your picture of their future may change dramatically. The good news is that there are so many more resources and proven strategies that help to bring out the best in your child, so try them. I get so excited with all the advancements in technology, fidget toys, and weighted blankets. I often think, “Wow, Kyle could have used that when he was little.” The bad news, just because your child tries something that has worked for another child on the spectrum, doesn’t mean that it will be successful with him/her. The greatest news of all, parental support is right at your fingertips! Facebook and other social media have helped me personally within the last 6 years. I have been able to really advocate for Kyle and his peers on transitional issues like bridging the gap between high school and adult life.
I really WANT YOU to know about Adults living with Autism. Our young adults still need so much support. Not just financially, but emotionally. They yearn to be included in our communities and want to have active adult lives. Sadly, I know quite a few young adults, not attending school, who do not have a job, and do not have any funding to help with cost of living expenses. Many young adults with Autism will need ongoing job coaching and supported employment opportunities. Most of these adults have so much potential and do not want to stay home all day, every day. Many young adults do not have friends, because they have limited social and verbal skills. They may not always be able to communicate what they want, but we should reach out and help them speak up for themselves. My son tells me what he would like his adult days to be filled with and I prompt him to take an active-roll in planning his days and his own free time. Kyle must do things independently, without Mom being there to do it for him. The wonderful news is there are new opportunities in colleges and big businesses to help all adults get “real world” experience. More importantly, individuals with Autism present differently, and not one of them is the same; they are unique and can contribute to our society. How will you HELP?
Mrs. Tara Horwitz
Founder of AutismGUARDS.org
Mother of a Young Man with Autism
Advocate, and Educator

 


Changes in Pennsylvania are happening constantly.  Please get involved and participate in these conversations!  I think that we need to collect public opinion, data from consumers and families here in PA, to ask what they want regarding independent working and living. Data should drive what initiatives, policies, and waivers we create for our citizens. What are the practical uses and how do they play out in the real world? I believe it is extremely important to hear and listen to consumers with Autism; those that can advocate for themselves. Parents can advocate for our children! I will continue to be a very vocal advocate for our Autism community and remain steady in talking loudly about the issues that matter to us by writing local legislatorsThe President has made his State of the Union Address. Sadly, I am not sure issues involving health, special education, safety, funding for independent working and living are even thought about seriously in Washington D.C.. Our citizens with disabilities do not seem to be a priority in our current congress.

http://coalitionforcommunitychoice.org/take-action-now/

*If you would like to learn about local meetings and events, make sure you visit the Facebook page:  Autismguards  
 (It is easier to update information daily there!)
 


We parents must help our young adults tap into their talents and hidden potential by exploring opportunities, expanding possibilities, and focusing on high expectations while setting and meeting Realistic Goals." Tara Horwitz. With so many new opportunities happening around Montgomery County and conferences and the past Octoberfests this year. I get so excited over the fact that real conversations about improving services and funding are happening around here, so when I can't attend something, I may send an email, just to be included in the conversation.  I may even write an actual letter!  
With the winter months approaching, it is time for me to recharge, reflect, and plan for the future.  I am in the process of editing this entire website and hope that the changes in the reources section are helpful to many.  I am working on making sure links are clickable and that all information is as accurate as possible.  It will take awhile, but it will get done.  New resources are being added!
Here is a good read on the subject of exploring opportunities with our unique children:  
Untapped Potential: Autistic Adults

 

My son, Kyle, is an adult living with Autism.  He has made me very proud and taught me more than I ever imagined.  Do you have a teenager or an adult living with Autism?  I do!  Actually, as I meet up with more and more parents of children with any special need, I am realizing that we aren't much different from one another.  We all want our children to thrive and live out happy lives.  I started this site to keep track of resources for developmentally delayed/neurologically impaired pre-teens and teens, because I am concerned about transitioning, especially from highschool to "the real world".
     

    •  I encourage every parent of a special needs child to make your own play date. Call ahead. Explain ahead. Be the change you want to see!!!!
    • I started out small, just one girl called Kyle and asked for him to hang out...that expanded to half his class...and now extended friends of passionate parents like myself.
    •  It is not easy, but it can get easier. 
    • Throw some parties! Meet up! Awareness is happening-------ACTIONS are happening!  People are accepting.  :)
    •  It also helps if you include all exceptionalities and differences beyond Autism.....we all have challenges, but together we can have ENORMOUS SUCCESS!!!
    This is a parent and guardian resource/networking group, facilitating educational information and recreational resources for adolescents with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Autism Guards is a localized web-site for neighbors of Montgomery County (Conshohocken, Lafayette Hill, Norristown, East Noriton, North Whales, Blue Bell, Plymouth Meeting, Chestnut Hill, Flourtown, Springfield, etc...) and beyond.  We are currently using social media to continue dialogue and spread valuable information and resources. 

    We do not have monthly meetings at this time, however, we do provide information on local area meetings that may be of interest to those in the Autism community.  

    You are encouraged to check out easily updated information via our Facebook page: Autismguards.  
     

    (Pictured above Kyle and his Mom, Tara)

    All the Best,                                  
    Tara Thompson-Horwitz

    P.S.  Don't know where to start?  * Autismspeaks.org 
      
    This site is listed there, along with many other great resources to help us all!  
    *NEWEST=Community-based Skills Assessment (CSA): Developing a Personalized Transition Plan!
    http://www.autismspeaks.org/family-services/community-based-skills-assessment

    There are several valuable guidelines and outlines for the best ways to get started on advocating for your child or loved one.  
    The tool kit that I have found most helpful for my own son is the Transition Tool Kit!   
    They have an Employment Tool Kit and many others.  
    They hold the market on research and many other things...   
    Keep a binder and good luck on your journey!