What is autism?
Autism is a neurological developmental disorder that is generally detected within a child’s first three years of life. It affects the way they are able to communicate and interact with others. Symptoms vary, but may include a lack of speech or eye contact, delay in social behavior, or fixation on certain objects or parts of objects.
Autism is estimated to affect one out of every 110 children in the United States. Jeanette Orr's daughter was one of those children.
Angel, then 2 years old, had never spoken a word. She did not make eye contact with her parents. She did not interact socially with other children her age, preferring to play by herself.
Jeanette knew nothing of autism when Angel was first diagnosed.
“I thought, ‘my child’s never going to talk, never going to do this or do that?’ To me, that’s not acceptable,” she said. “So you start from scratch and once you find out that information, you really want to try to pass it along to other parents.”
With the help of local medical and educational professionals, Jeanette founded Autism Support Corner, Inc., in October 2009.
The non-profit group seeks to raise awareness of autism, build support, and provide resources for families affected by the disorder.
Autism Support Corner holds monthly support meetings, organizes social skills groups for autistic children, hosts family outings and more. They will soon offer parent training.
Jeanette stresses that, with autism spectrum disorders, early detection and therapy are key.
“Catching it early is just so important because you’re working with those behaviors and working through all that stuff when they’re young enough.”
Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) Therapy and other therapies can be highly effective, but may be very costly: up to $135 an hour.
Austism Support Corner hopes to be able to help families pay for treatment.
“There is treatment out there for kids with autism, but insurance companies do not pay for it,” said Jeanette.
Angel Orr, now 8 years old, has vastly improved through therapy.
“My daughter went from not saying a word to a chatterbox. She started off in a self-contained classroom … after the ABA therapy, we are in a typical classroom, she’s around typical peers, and she has typical friends,” said Jeanette.
“We have to stand together,” she added. “Sometimes you run into roadblocks when it comes to autism … but autism is going to be there for life. I’m not so much worried about what causes it, other than how to fix it and how to teach my daughter what she needs to know, so that she can grow up in society that is accepting of her and who she is.”
The autism support group meets on the second Tuesday of each month from 6:30 – 8:00 p.m. at St. Anne’s Holy Family Hall. All are welcome.
To learn more about Autism Support Corner, Inc. and their programs and services, visit www.autismsupportcorner.org, call (912) 445-0233, or stop by their Richmond Hill office at 185 Richard Davis Drive, Suite 202, between 9:30 a.m. and 3:00 p.m. Monday through Friday.
Note: Autism Support Corner’s Spring Fling Gala, originally scheduled for April 30 at Richmond Hill City Center, will be postponed until Saturday, Dec. 3, from 6-10 p.m. at the same venue. If you have any questions regarding the change, please contact Autism Support Corner, Inc.