There are so many passionate and amazing organizations throughout our communities. In this week’s Friday Focus, we got to learn all about The Autism Project and their dedication in Southern Maryland. The Autism Project is a non-profit organization whose mission is to educate, advocate for and empower individuals on the Autism Spectrum, their families and communities. They include children through adulthood, individualizing services to focus on what that person needs to learn and build skills in the most. Angela Gaither Parker, Director of The Autism Project, shared with us her favorite moments of the year and some upcoming events.
Q: Tell us about your organization (who you serve, what you do, etc.)
The Autism Project is a nonprofit organization that was started in 1998. We serve southern Maryland counties – Calvert, Anne Arundel, Prince George’s, Charles and St. Mary’s. We work with student upon initial diagnosis (or suspected diagnosis) up through adulthood. We also pride ourselves on working with the entire spectrum in terms of severity of needs. We provide social skills groups, summer camps, aquatic therapy, individual therapy, family training, ½ day therapeutic play program, siblings groups and monthly socials. Our therapy is eclectic in that we borrow from the best practices for teaching students with autism. We use activities and projects to encourage generalization of skills to the real world.
Q: What is your favorite “moment” (example of how your organization helped)?
Our students do many awesome things, but, I am most proud of how well they do with our annual bake sale in April. Our students bake all of the items, package them, label them, organize them and then go out into the community at various sites to sell them. When they are finished they assist in counting, sorting and totaling up the money. This fundraiser raised almost $2,500 this year and it was all done by our students.
Q: What is your biggest challenge?
Our biggest challenge is getting the word out that we are here and we can help. It saddens me when we get students that live in Calvert County and had no idea we were right down the street all along. Another challenge we face is providing scholarships for students in low income families.
Q: Are there any upcoming events?
We just completed a 5K race in Lothian which was a huge success. We are gearing up for summer camp which starts in mid-June. We will be holding our annual Redskins raffle in the fall. This is our major fundraiser and we have been able to purchase many items for our center from the proceeds of this raffle.
Q: How can people get involved with your organization?