Taking action: Group forms for autism support
When a child is diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder, parents' devastation is likely compounded by the overwhelming need for support– and the lack of a centralized resource for families. Creating such a hub is the impetus behind the newly formed Charlottesville Regional Autism Action Group, which launched in April.
"There are a lot of families who need a lot of help," says Frances Greenstein, a counselor and one of several parents who've helped launch the volunteer-run group that offers support meetings, tips on obtaining state and federal benefits, and a directory that parents of autistic children will appreciate.
'It's not just 'which doctors are best?'" says Greenstein. "It's 'where should I take my child for a haircut?"
As reported recently by the CDC, the reported incidence of autism has jumped to one in 88, and while many peg the increase to more aggressive diagnoses, it suggests there are hundreds of children in Charlottesville and surrounding counties who have been diagnosed with a disorder that may mean a lifetime of dependence on family caregivers.
"We want to offer a sense of a team," says Greenstein, mom to a 9-year-old boy, "a sense that if you can change one thing, you begin to have hope again."