The Philadelphia Autism Project and the Autism Services, Education, Resources and Training (ASERT) Collaborative Eastern Region released seed money to address their goal of impacting underserved and underrepresented populations living with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) in the city of Philadelphia by engaging individuals, groups, faith-based or grassroots organizations. Programs were funded from throughout the city with activities that span a variety of areas including raising awareness, providing education and support, piloting modifications to a diagnostic screening tool, and new program development within existing community organizations.
African and Caribbean Autism Awareness program
This Autism Awareness Program is designed to address cultural and language barriers and reduce health disparities. This program will include an educational workshop and the development of a video about autism spectrum disorders to help increase awareness, educate and support the African and Caribbean community. In addition to these awareness raising events, this program will also develop and administer a needs assessment to understand the specific needs of this community.
Autism Awareness Community Weekend
The Church of the Redeemer Baptist hosted an Autism Awareness Community Weekend during the month of April for Autism Awareness Month and will be hosting another event to continue to increase autism awareness in their community by providing information, resources & support. The event will target individuals with autism of all ages and across the spectrum, as well as parents/caregivers, family members and community members.
Culturally and Linguistically Appropriate Collaborative Care for Asian American Pacific Islander Communities
With a focus on autism, a coalition of Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI)-serving organizations will test a collaborative care model to eliminate cultural and linguistic barriers, and reduce education and physical and behavioral health disparities among AAPI communities. An important component of this model is a one day summit on ASD specifically for AAPI serving organizations. This will allow attendees to expand the capacity to provide appropriate diagnosis and assessment of individuals with an ASD by improving cultural competency among health professionals and educators.
Grand Central – Relative As Parents Program (RAPP)
One of the most challenging aspects of being a relative caregiver of a child with autism is first understanding the diagnosis and then finding the resources to support both the family and the child. This program will serve grandparents, who are caring for their grandchildren with an ASD, by enhancing their ASD knowledge and providing a connection to community resources and supports. Through a six week workshop series, relative caregivers will gain the knowledge to effectively advocate and support their grandchild(ren) with an ASD.
Pennsylvania School for the Deaf: Plan to Pilot a Modification of the M-CHAT
The goal of this project is to modify the Modified Checklist for Autism in Toddlers (MCHAT) to meet the identification needs of children who are deaf. This will allow a standardization of this instrument for use at the Pennsylvania School for the Deaf (PSD), as well as other schools for the deaf, generating more accurate empirical evidence. This program will serve individuals (K-21) who are deaf with an ASD. Currently, there are no norms in utilizing the MCHAT with children who are deaf or hard of hearing. This modification could potentially lead to earlier identification and earlier interventions for these individuals.
Philadelphia Museum of Art Autism Inclusivity Training
The Autism Inclusivity Training at the Philadelphia Museum of Art (PMA) will help to create a welcoming space and increase opportunities for the meaningful community participation for individuals with ASD and their families. The PMA Art Division of Education and Public Programming staff will attend Autism Inclusivity Training at the Metropolitan Museum of Art to learn best practices and participate in comprehensive inclusivity training from service providers in Philadelphia. This training will allow PMA to create more inclusive programming, improve environmental accessibility, and more fully respond to the needs and preferences of individuals with an ASD and their families.
Sensory Story Time Events: Lower Moyamensing Civic Association and Friends of Torresdale Library
The goal of these sensory story time events is to create an activity for individuals with autism and their families and to help them feel more comfortable and familiar visiting and using the library resources. The Lower Moyamensing Civic Association and Friends of Torresdale Library will receive seed money funding to be used to support the purchase of content-based materials for sensory story time events at the Fumo Family Branch and the Torresdale Branch of the Free Library of Philadelphia, respectively. Sensory Story Time events will occur monthly and will include books, music, and sensory activities for children with an ASD and their caregivers. Social interaction will be encouraged and supported, and special effort will be made to foster a welcoming environment.
Sharon Baptist Church Victory Club
The Sharon Baptist Church Victory Club will help this faith-based community to create a welcoming environment for families of individuals with an ASD and to increase awareness of ASD through education and training programs for the congregation and the surrounding community. Specific activities include: educating parents and caregivers on how to navigate the school system, making parents and caregivers aware of the medical and therapeutic resources that are available, and helping to provide families with respite.
Video Series: Autism in African American Families and Autism in Hispanic and Latino Families
A series of ground breaking family focused films will be created and then debuted at Philadelphia area libraries. The films focus on the emotional reality of dealing with a diagnosis, how it affects the family unit, and the unique challenges that families from diverse cultural backgrounds face. The goal of these videos is to increase awareness, in order to help children from underserved families to become better armed to obtain equal services.
Voting on the Spectrum
Voting on the Spectrum is a program designed to assist adults (ages 18 and over) with autism to understand the voting and election process, including voter registration. The project will involve group meetings to explain the importance of voting, discussions about candidates, and field trips to register to vote and to procure proper I.D. Group meetings will also include mock elections with simulated voting booths and assistance in finding polling places.
Walnut Street Theatre School Class for Children on the Autism Spectrum
The Walnut Street Theatre will implement a new six-week theater class for children with adolescents with ASD. The class will teach the fundamentals of acting in a safe and controlled environment, helping attendees to develop social skills and self-expression. This funding will help to produce a program that will create welcoming environment for individuals with autism and their families, while also increasing opportunities for meaningful community participation and expanding the potential to implement similar programs at this and other theaters in Philadelphia.