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Spotlight

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United Way of the Piedmont recognized the outstanding outcomes produced by Project HOPE Foundation's Hope Reach program by awarding it the 2015 Program Excellence Award in Education.

 

 

 


AUTISM SPECTRUM DISORDER

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“Autism” (or “autism spectrum disorder” also known as “ASD”) refers to a disorder currently diagnosed through symptoms, which involve difficulties in social interaction, verbal and nonverbal communication and repetitive behaviors.

 

Until the May 2013 publication of the DSM-5 diagnostic manual, the autism spectrum included five distinct subgroups: autistic disorder, childhood disintegrative disorder, pervasive developmental disorder-not otherwise specified (PDD-NOS) and Asperger syndrome. Under DSM-5, all autism disorders are merged into one umbrella diagnosis of ASD.

 

Autism affects all racial, ethnic, and socio-enomic groups. However, it is 4-5 times more likely in boys than in girls.

 

Symptoms for autism typically appear between 10-18 months of age. Unfortunately, the average age of diagnosis is 4-years-old. A diagnosis is usually made by a developmental pediatrician. Typically, there is a waiting list for appointments to get this diagnosis.

 

The rate of autism has increased dramatically over the past two decades. When Project HOPE Foundation first started, the rate was 1 in 2,500. The current rate is 1 in 68 children, 1 in 42 boys. Although we now have better diagnostics and increased awareness, these improvements do not account for the marked increase.

 

About 33% of individuals with autism are nonverbal. Thankfully, many can be taught to communicate in other ways, including augmentative communication devices.

 

It is estimated that 50% of individuals with autism elope (wander away).  It is imperative to work on safety skills with this population.

 

People with autism have an increased risk of seizures. Additionally, many experience gastrointestinal issues, sleep disorders, sensory processing difficulties, and food sensitivities.


News & Events

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The night began with the poised and commanding presence of a young adult with autism who once banged his head against concrete floors. It closed with beautifully enunciated words delivered by a young man who was speechless until the age of eight.

 

In between was a steady stream of extraordinary “ordinary moments.” 

 

Tiny elves jingled bells and smiled out with joy at the 300+ spectators in the audience – a sight for which it is impossible to prepare. A set of reindeer hokey pokied their way into our hearts and we saw bravery in action as composure was quickly gained despite emotional upheaval. Children, who once paid no attention to other people beamed at their families, festooned as happy Christmas trees. Preschoolers just learning gross motor skills line danced across the stage and lassoed our attention with their snazzy cowboy costumes and fancy footwork. First graders who are just emerging verbally stepped up to the microphone to tell jokes and worked the crowd like vaudeville pros. A class made Santa appear before our very eyes – as we watched in amazement at their equally magical ability to wait and to take turns. A group who is learning social skills along with their academics demonstrated a range of emotions, including a blue Elvis, a distant girlfriend, and a cheerful Christmas tree– and actually held hands to take their bow! Second and third graders conveyed their memorized lines with perfect timing, tugging on a stuck Santa and collapsing on the floor on cue, all without losing self-control. 4th and 5th graders with sensory issues donned storm trooper masks and handled light sabers. Another group of 4th and 5th graders caroled us with bells, never losing their composure even when a bell slipped away. A K5/1st grade group, some with autism and some without, blessed us with their acapella rendition of “Let There Be Peace On Earth,” with synchronized sign language and sincerity shining on every face.

 

Hope abounded tonight.


EMPTY INK AND TONER CARTRIDGES =
FUNDING FOR SERVICES

We are excited to be working with US Recycling to benefit the environment and support our programs.   We are seeking corporate sponsors to donate and recycle empty ink and toner cartridges on our behalf. We will earn cash for qualifying ink and toner cartridges that are returned to US Recycling. If you are interested in supporting this project, click here to email us or click here to register online to donate.

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