Parenting is hard enough as it is, but where do you turn for help when your child is diagnosed with autism? Autism is a developmental disability typically recognized when an individual has difficulty with social interaction, problems with verbal and nonverbal communication and repetitive or obsessive behaviors. Autism is almost five times more common among boys than girls. Fortunately for local parents, 417-land is full of resources that help families understand this diagnosis and equip their children with valuable life skills through childhood and beyond.
“Autism is on the rise in the country and a very important diagnosis families are dealing with now,” says Danielle Wise, Director of Development at The Arc of the Ozarks, an organization dedicated to serving individuals with a variety of disabilities. “The community is essential in assisting families in understanding and coping with the diagnosis.”
The Arc is one of several organizations in the Ozarks that seek to help families cope with autism and help individuals live an independent life. The Arc provides a variety of resources for families dealing with autism, including the family advocacy department. The Arc is one of the only groups in the area that offers this service, allowing individuals the opportunity to gain an understanding of what steps they will need to take when facing a diagnosis of this type.
The Arc also hosts several educational and recreational programs with a variety of activities to encourage students to broaden their social skills and independence. For students elementary school age and older, The Arc’s academy, Rivendale Institute of Learning & Center for Autism, provides an alternative education for students ages 6 to 21, including a one-on-one learning environment for each individual. “The goal is for individuals to move out of this school and into the public-school system, or the workforce, and become a functioning member of society,” Wise says. Although scholarships aren’t offered, The Arc works to provide services that each family needs individually. “We can even provide 24-hour support to several individuals,” Wise says.