The national spotlight on autism as a result from the increase in prevalence, has produced an overall increase of awareness as well. However, we are finding that even though people are more aware of autism, there is still a general lack of understanding around what that really means to the individual or their family. We understand that without truly understanding, some may find it difficult to accept, encourage, and appreciate.
Our vision for our community is to be a place where
all touched by autism are empowered to live without limits. Where every
individual and their family is greeted with encouragement, embraced with
understanding, presented with opportunities, and appreciated as valuable
members of society.
In our journey to realize our vision, we began reaching out to community leaders, service providers, and other willing partners in the community, by asking them to work with us. We encouraged them to learn about autism, learn about our families, and learn what each person can accomplish given the right supports and tools. Ultimately, we asked them to embrace working together, acknowledge that together, we can change lives and our community. Together, we can promote awareness, acceptance, and appreciation.
Together, we can change the future.
Through our efforts within the community, we identified and worked with strong partners interested in providing programs and services offering opportunities for all to thrive.
In 2010, we began working with ProMedica leaders to identify and solidify their role within the community. Through this effort, the Toledo Children's Hospital (TCH) Autism Early Learning Program was created as a "mirror" program of the Cleveland Clinic's autism early learning program. In addition, ProMedica committed to being a community partner and established the community autism center which would house the TCH Autism Early Learning Program along with 5 other community organizations including the GLCA. Today, the autism center is the home of the Great Lakes Collaborative for Autism, Special Kids Therapy Play Room, iTaalk, TCH Autism Early Learning Program, and a satellite office for Harbor.