April is designated as Autism Awareness Month. Autism, or Autism spectrum disorder (ASD), refers to a broad range of conditions characterized by challenges with social skills, repetitive behaviors, speech and nonverbal communication. According to the Centers for Disease Control, autism affects an estimated 1 in 59 children in the United States today. By comparison, this is more children than are affected by diabetes, AIDS, cancer, cerebral palsy, cystic fibrosis, muscular dystrophy or Down syndrome — combined.
The Lowcountry Autism Foundation (LAF) is committed to enhancing the lives of individuals with ASD and their families through individually designed programming, advocacy and awareness efforts. All of LAF’s programs are individualized and aimed to fill gaps in services. With a very small staff and a dedicated group of volunteers, LAF has provided over half a million dollars in free autism services to over 1700 Lowcountry families. We are small, but mighty, and all of our funds stay right here in the South Carolina Lowcountry.
Upon being diagnosed with ASD, the norm is for a family to be overwhelmed with a complicated web of therapies and services. LAF’s goal is to decrease the stress on the family and connect them with every available resource. Our behavioral intervention program matches each family with a specialist who creates individualized treatment plans and advocates for what is best for the individual. Our art therapy and social skills programs provide a safe and fun environment to foster relationships, build emotional intelligence, and teach emotional regulation. Our parent and sibling programs provide the entire family with targeted support.
LAF recently launched our respite program, “Parents’ Night Out” and our monthly parent training and support group. For “Parents’ Night Out,” LAF offers a 3-hour long respite for parents and caregivers of children with autism spectrum disorder. Trained therapists, special education teachers and volunteers care for the child with ASD while parents, caregivers and siblings receive a much needed break. LAF’s monthly parent training and support group focuses on bringing guest speakers of different backgrounds to provide much needed advice and information to empower our parents while establishing fellowship with other autism families.
All of LAF’s services are provided at no cost to the families that we serve. Our programs are supported through grants, individual donations and our special events.
Come support the Lowcountry Autism Foundation at our 2nd annual Ales for Autism on Saturday, April 27, 2019 from 5:00-9:00 pm at Southern Barrel Brewing Company in Bluffton. There will be a 50/50 raffle and a silent auction. The proceeds will benefit LAF’s family support services in Beaufort County.