By Alex Cordero
Local organizations in Pasadena provide support, education and resources to individuals on the autism spectrum beyond the month of April, National Autism Awareness month. These groups are the forerunners in advocating for anyone on the autism spectrum in our communities and they have been doing it for years. They welcome anyone who expresses the need to help, learn and volunteer to make a difference in the autism world.
Formerly known as the Crippled Children’s Society of Southern California, this organization was started in 1926 by a group of businessmen from the Los Angeles Rotary Club to help children affected by the polio epidemic. They concentrated on identifying the capabilities of the children first, to help them become more independent. From this concept, AbilityFirst (with a location at 1300 E. Green St., Pasadena) was established and the rest has been history.
The founders of this great organization are considered to be pioneer advocates for disability rights and were one of the first community service providers in California for children with disabilities. They were also one of the first in the country to establish vocational training programs for adults with disabilities and supported employment, helping adults with disabilities succeed in community jobs.
They have a wide variety of programs designed to empower individuals with autism, cerebral palsy, down syndrome and other intellectual/developmental disabilities to uncover what is important in the lives of individuals in order be successful active members of our communities.
Their upcoming AbilityFEST is a free and open to the public event that honors past, present and future partners, donors and volunteers. It is also a celebration of the dedication AbilityFirst family members and participants demonstrate in this great organization. Please visit classy.org/event/abilityfest/e217913 for more details.
Foothill Autism Alliance
With a recent anniversary celebration for serving the community for 20 years, Foothill Autism Alliance (FAA) is an organization that continues to provide community resources, events and information for individuals on the autism spectrum. This group was organized by a group of parents from local surrounding cities including Glendale, Burbank, Pasadena and La Cañada. They wanted to create an organization for sharing information, resources and support the increasing number of families in the area whose children were being diagnosed with autism spectrum disorders. The FAA is an all-volunteer group, whose board of directors includes both parents and professionals, that hosts a variety of events including monthly family meetings, workshops, lectures and social functions. For example there is an ongoing Just for Teens Social Club workshop series and Just for Adults FAA and a Spectrum League Adult Social Club workshop series as well. Please visit foothillautism.org/events.html for more details.
Autism+Moms SoCal & Beyond
Autism + Moms SoCal & Beyond was founded in 2012 by Jenne D’amian who decided to become an advocate for individuals on the autism spectrum after her son was diagnosed with autism. This is an online support group on Facebook for family members of children who have been diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and other related disorders. It is designed to be a place for parents to obtain information about autism, break down the details of ASD and its related disorders, and also get in touch with different types of resources in the community. Jenne is currently a special education advocate at Disability Advocacy.