WHC restarts autism support group

Published 8:54 pm Saturday, July 18, 2015

As autism diagnoses continue to rise, a Willing Hearts Circle committee is working to make sure parents and caregivers of those affected don’t feel so alone.

The Autism Committee, which is comprised of nine women, is restarting the parent support group to help ensure knowledge and resources are available. The first meeting will be held Thursday at 6 p.m. in the State Room on E. Cherokee Street and will feature Dr. Spencer Money. All interested parties are invited to attend.

The Willing Hearts Circle is part of the International Order of the King’s Daughters and Sons. The Brookhaven chapter oversees King’s Daughters Medical Center, Silver Cross Nursing Home and Kingsborough Elderly Housing.

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“We’re a Christian organization committed to serving all God’s children in his name,” committee member Martha Sinclair said.

The primary motivation of the group is to create a network among parents, and to make sure caregivers know there is help out there. The group will discuss such topics as financial help and training opportunities.

“They need to be aware of all these resources for them,” Sinclair said.

Chairman Mary Smith said they have also seen interest from teachers who want to learn more about autism.

“Our teachers are learning more and more in our schools,” she said.

“It’s very rare now teachers to not have some child with autism at some point,” committee member Mary Clark said. “There’s a lot of problems in the classroom that are from the undiagnosed.”

Smith believes that providing resources at an early age helps give these children the opportunity to become successful down the road.

“With Asperger’s (one part of the autism spectrum), they’re brilliant in some parts,” she said.

Clark said that the autism spectrum takes into account various degrees of the disorder.

“It’s similar to cancer — some are bad, and others are not so bad,” she said.

The group hopes to meet quarterly, and they will also have a private Facebook group which will allow individuals to share information among other members.

The group will also benefit from the Silver Cross Foundation, which will provide financial assistance to bring speakers in as well as help sponsor children to attend Adventure Base Camp in Mize that is led by Dr. Mark Yeager through TEAAM Autism.

Although the group will welcome anyone Thursday night, they would like for interested parties to RSVP to ensure enough chairs are available. To RSVP, contact Mary Nations Smith at hnations@wildblue.net or 601-833-9611, Robyn Aker at akers04@gmail.com or 601-835-8627 or Michelle Lofton at michelle.king.lofton@gmail.com at 601-757-3676.