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A Look Back as We Forge Ahead

As we get ready for the new school year to begin, re-open our lobby, and begin construction on our new Adult Services Building, let’s take a look back at what we’ve accomplished since we had our campus lockdown in March of last year……and how our programs and services speak well of us, the families and clients we serve, and our adaptability.

It was very important that while our campus was not in service, we were able to provide our clients with supports and services for the same kinds of needs at home that they sought out from our Clinical Department at The Els Center of Excellence. Through our conventional online platforms, we created a series of educational and social program developments to help our clients. We also developed a telehealth model and gave free access to a new virtual program called Storytime with Alternative and Augmentative Communication (AAC) so that everybody, from all over the world, could join in improving their vocabulary with social and visual supports.

We also developed programs around the social, mental health and life skill needs of our clients. The Spectrum Book Club and our Connections Club created an awareness of our community even within our own homes. We kept our Mental Health Support Group for adults, and even expanded it by providing it to Teens, along with a group for siblings of individuals with autism called ‘Sibs Stick Together’,, which expanded to “Sam’s Sibs Stick Together” led by our very own Samantha Els. We started offering our Daily Living Skills classes virtually, and brought the adults with autism social group (The Spoken Wheel Society) online for the very first time.

Our Recreation Programs also saw a change in the curriculums. Our Musical Theater Group would end up having our actors and actresses participate in film productions, and our Inter-Ability Chorus Group had their first virtual concert. Many of our traditional programs were brought virtually for the very first time with successful results! We even had our famous six week Movin’ and Groovin’ Summer Camp go virtual for 2020!

As the months went on, we looked at how we could start offering live in-person sessions again, but only with the best practices, following standardized protocols and procedures against the pandemic while exercising the greatest of cautions. Our Work Experience Program would have our clients doing work around the campus and eventually go around the community offering snacks and lunches as part of our new #WERFOODIES Microbusiness. Our Adult Day Training Program which serves to help some of our adult clients learn valuable skills, engage in recreational exercises and even work on another microbusiness known as Sea of Possibilities, also came back to campus.

Recently, we brought back the full Golf Challenge Series and also our on and off-campus Spoken Wheel Society Meetings along with having Live Spring and Summer Camps. We had a very successful Second Roots and Ruts 5K during Autism Awareness Month in April! We’ve also really buffed up our Youtube feed with more webinars and informative videos than ever before. And you may have heard about all of this on our new Fore Autism Podcast, which started in April of last year, co-hosted by Dr. Nate Shanok and I!

I would hope that if you’ve read this far, to read up on our 2020 – 2021 Community Report too!