GREENVILLE — Only a parent, teacher or caregiver of an autistic child can truly understand the challenges presented by this condition — the incremental cognitive and physical advances, sometimes too small to even be noticeable to the casual observer; the waiting for diagnoses, for slots to become available on favored programs.
A life with autism is a life rife with challenges. And too often, it is easy for the parent or caregiver of an autistic child to feel alone in the world. That is most assuredly not the case, however, and that’s news Cyndi Geiger hopes to spread during an Autism Awareness Month Event set for 6:30 to 8 p.m. Monday at the multi-purpose room of the Seiter Education Center in Greenville.
Geiger is the project director and the Montcalm Area Intermediate School District Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) program supervisor. This is the second consecutive year the MAISD has offered the event and, according to Geiger, Monday’s seminar has a few new wrinkles.
“This year we are offering an ASD Expo with the goal of linking parents and professionals with community resources that support children and families living with autism,” Geiger explained. “We understand at MAISD that when we all work together as partners we can better meet the varied needs that our children, families, couples, siblings and professional staff face.”
Guest speaker and MAISD Superintendent Dr. Scott Koenigsknecht will address the gathering starting at 6:30 p.m. in the multi-purpose room, after which guests will have the chance to visit many speakers at various informational kiosks around the center.
The main purpose of the event, Geiger said, is to highlight the numerous community resources that currently exist for those living with ASD.
Organizations participating include Hope Network, BRAINS, Project Impact from MSU, The Comprehensive Therapy Center, Horizons Developmental Center, Lakeview Clinic, North Kent Guidance Services, Autism/Aspergers Association, Great Parents Great Start, Ferris State University, GVSU-START, Mid- Michigan Industries, and Montcalm Center for Behavioral Health.
Representatives from Barnes & Noble also will be on hand with written texts and other materials dealing with autism.
Deb Koepke will speak on safety procedures and Leslie Kinnie on Camp Optimist’s social club. According to Geiger, many more speakers also will be on hand. The event also features a local expert on sensory needs and ideas.
Free child care is available. Those wishing to take advantage of it should RSVP by calling Geiger at (616) 894-7771 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.