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Local community gathers to learn more about autism

More than 150 families, educators from local schools, and care providers gathered in Logan County on Friday for the first local conference for Understanding and Supporting Individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder (or ASD).

The daylong event held at the Bellefontaine First Church of God was a collaboration between the Logan County Board of DD and OCALI (the Ohio Center for Autism and Low Incidence). Program Director for the Autism Certification Center at OCALI Carly McVey said the goal was to leave the audience with concrete strategies that they can put into action as soon as possible and connect them to resources that are relevant and accessible online. McVey explained, “Over the years we’ve seen an increase in the prevalence of autism. It looks like we’re now holding somewhat steady over the past couple of years. We can say some of that increase is due to better diagnostics or identification practices. The more we know as a community, the more professionals know about autism, the more they are able to identify it and identify it early. The sooner it is identified the sooner the strategies, supports, and services can come into play.”

The Logan County Board of DD currently serves 19 adults, 12 teens, and 20 school age individuals diagnosed with autism. In addition, the Discovery Center for Children serves 3 children with Early Intervention Services and 11 children in specialized preschool classrooms. Other individuals on the autism spectrum locally may not currently qualify for services.

One Discovery Center classroom is devoted to children with ASD or behavioral challenges. It includes sensory specialized equipment including a sensory/water table, swing, mirrors, cause and effect toys, quiet areas, and soft structures designed to help students learn while managing their emotions and accompanying family supports.

The conference’s morning session included all participants and focused on social communication, sensory sensitivities, restricted interests and patterns of behaviors, cognition, and information and emotional regulation.

The afternoon consisted of breakout sessions with specific information for early intervention and childhood services, school age and transition services, and adult services.

For further information or to view a training video visit www.ocali.org.

Top photo: More than 150 parents, educators and care providers gathered for the Understanding and Supporting Individuals with Autism Conference Friday.

Bottom photo: OCALI's Carly McVey speaks during the morning session.

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