Annual Reports

Annual Report 2009-2010

Presented at the July 18, 2010Annual Meeting Penne Fode

President The Vision Statement of the Autism Society of America says that we as a chapter must serve the autism community in the areas of “education, advocacy, services, research and support”. The Annual Report will delineate how we addressed each of these areas.

The Greater Long Beach/San Gabriel Valley Chapter continues to make progress in a number of functional areas:

Education: In January the chapter hosted its annual conference, “A Glimpse into the Autistic Mind” with keynote speaker, Donna Williams. For the first time this year, we also hosted, simultaneously, a conference with only Spanish speakers, meeting the needs of another autism community. On a monthly basis, we hosted support groups in Long Beach, Whittier, and Irvine. Our quarterly newsletter and website are also vehicles for disseminating information.

Advocacy: We advocate for children with autism at monthly Family Advisory Committee meetings at the Eastern Los Angeles Regional Center, and through contact in person and by mail with our legislators. We also belong to the Alliance of California Autism Organizations (ACAO), consisting of representatives from autism organizations throughout the state representing our community in Sacramento and following legislative issues affecting the autism community. In April we were recognized at the LA Dodger’s Autism Awareness Day for our work in the community.

Services: Since we have a Regional Center system, we don’t have to provide direct services like so many other chapters in the country do, but we have responded to needs we see in the community. However, we have provided several venues in this area. Most notably is our annual “Super Sibling Workshop” conducted in May providing siblings a day to enjoy, learn, and share. In September, we hosted a series of 6 workshops with Fran Goldfarb, “Autism ABC’s: Parenting a Child on the Autism Spectrum.” We collaborate with AMC theaters in Long Beach, Covina and Orange Co providing an opportunity for our children to enjoy first run movies at their comfort zone.

Research: Our local chapter does not conduct or fund research ourselves. Through donations to the National organization, we are supporting their work in initiatives to look into early diagnosis and early intervention, the environmental triggers of autism, environmental factors that exacerbate health conditions, and most importantly, a comprehensive, coordinated treatment guided research initiative Our board members also attend scientific conferences and bring the research back to our members.

Support: One of our greatest strengths is in the area of support. We accomplish this through our support groups and warm line. We are often the first contact for a family once a child has been diagnosed. We provide emotional support and also give direction to the families. We serve the Spanish speaking community by having a Spanish language warm line and by working closely with Fiesta Educativa, an organization that has been serving the Spanish speaking community for over 30 years. We are currently working to translate information into Cambodian. We serve adults with autism and Asperger Syndrome by supporting AGUA Classic, a social group that meets monthly.

As for funding our services, since we have no paid employees and no overhead for an office, all of the money that is collected from dues and donations goes directly to helping families. This past year we were beneficiaries of the “An Evening for Autism” event organized by Barry Saywitz, a motorcycle Ride for Autism, from Tommy Bahamas hosting an Autism Sales day, and from “Adjustments for Autism” hosted by Richard Viers, DC in Pomona.

At the end of this year we are financially sound and have fulfilled our responsibilities to our national organization and to our community.

Annual Report 2008-2009

Presented at the June 27, 2009 Annual Meeting Rita Rubin, President

The Vision Statement of the Autism Society of America says that we as a chapter must serve the autism community in the areas of “education, advocacy, services, research and support”. The Annual Report will delineate how we addressed each of these areas.

In the area of education, our chapter educated parents and professionals through our speakers at monthly support groups and our Annual Conference and we educated the general public through outreach efforts at various venues throughout our catchment area. Our support groups in Long Beach, Whittier, and Irvine hosted speakers on topics such as behavior, special needs trusts, occupational therapy, legal issues, the IEP, music for children with autism, model school programs, social skills, recreational programs, and services available from Easter Seals. Our bookstore also furthers education by offering for sale the latest books in English and Spanish on autism.

The speakers for our annual conference, “Keep Your Eye on the Prize: Successful Adulthood and How to Work Toward It”, included adults with autism who were successful in academics or the workplace and professionals who spoke about the therapies and supports needed to attain success. We have already begun planning the January 2010 conference on the autism brain/mind.

The venues where we presented information about autism and ASA included Irvine, several different sites in Long Beach, Pico Rivera, Anaheim, Buena Park, Pasadena, Los Angeles, Santa Ana, Santa Fe Springs and West Covina. Our quarterly newsletter and website are also vehicles for disseminating information.

In the realm of advocacy, we believe that advocacy must be based in a firm grounding of knowledge about autism and the law. Parents who attend our support groups and conference become better advocates for their children. We also advocate for children with autism at monthly Family Advisory Committee meetings at the Eastern Los Angeles Regional Center, and through contact in person and by mail with our legislators.

National Autism Awareness month gave us an opportunity for the general public to see our children as contributing members of the community. Families in the Long Beach area participated in a beach clean-up, and those in the Whittier area spent a morning cleaning up, raking, and watering plants at Palm Park.

In California, since we have a Regional Center system, we don’t have to provide direct services like so many other chapters in the country do, but we have responded to needs we see in the community. In March we held another “Super Sibling Saturday” and contracted with Fran Goldfarb, from USC, to conduct a series of parenting classes, starting in September, 2009.

Our local chapter does not conduct or fund research ourselves. By sending 80% of our dues and an additional donation to the National organization, we are supporting their work in initiatives to look into early diagnosis and early intervention, the environmental triggers of autism, environmental factors that exacerbate health conditions, and most importantly, a comprehensive, coordinated treatment guided research initiative Our board members also attend scientific conferences and bring the research back to our members.

One of our greatest strengths is in the area of support. We accomplish this through our support groups and warm line. We are often the first contact for a family once a child has been diagnosed. We provide emotional support and also give direction to the families. We serve the Spanish speaking community by having a Spanish language warm line and by working closely with Fiesta Educativa, an organization that has been serving the Spanish speaking community for over 30 years. We serve adults with autism and Asperger Syndrome by supporting AGUA Classic, a social group that meets monthly.

As for funding our services, since we have no paid employees and no overhead for an office, all of the money that is collected from dues and donations goes directly to helping families. This past year we were beneficiaries of the “An Evening for Autism” event organized by Barry Saywitz in November and the motorcycle Ride for Autism in August. We actively participated as volunteers in both fundraisers. We also added to our coffers with a bequest from a gentleman in Long Beach. At the end of this year we are financially sound and have fulfilled our responsibilities to our national organization and to our community.

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