Autism Support

What is Autism?

Autism is a developmental disorder that affects communication and behavior.  It is known as Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) because there is a wide variation in the type and severity of symptoms people experience.

According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), a guide created by the American Psychiatric Association used to diagnose mental disorders, people with ASD have:

  • Difficulty with communication and interaction with other people
  • Restricted interests and repetitive behaviors
  • Symptoms that hurt the person’s ability to function properly in school, work, and other areas of life

There is often nothing about how people with ASD look that sets them apart from other people, but people with ASD may communicate, interact, behave, and learn in ways that are different from most other people. The learning, thinking, and problem-solving abilities of people with ASD can range from gifted to severely challenged. Some people with ASD need a lot of help in their daily lives; others need less.

Although ASD can be a lifelong disorder, treatments and services can improve a person’s symptoms and ability to function. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that all children be screened for autism. All caregivers should talk to their doctor about ASD screening or evaluation.

There is currently no cure for ASD. However, research shows that early intervention treatment services can improve a child’s development.  It is important to talk to your child’s doctor as soon as possible if you think your child has ASD or other developmental problem.

  • About 1 in 54 children has been identified with ASD according to estimates from CDC’s Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring (ADDM) Network.
  • ASD is reported to occur in all racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic groups.
  • ASD is more than 4 times more common among boys than among girls.

For more information: CDC Autism Spectrum Disorder

When a loved one is diagnosed with ASD, obstacles and barriers may arise before acceptance occurs.  They include: wanting these to be different than the way they are, allowing the ASD label to interfere in the way of truly “seeing” the person, and having trouble enjoying the time you spend with the loved one.  You can support an individual with ASD by identifying that individual’s abilities and strengths.

Turn To Us provides free events for families to enjoy time together, connection to resources, financial assistance, and emotional support.

Why the new logo? The rainbow infinity sign is the symbol for neurodiversity. The full spectrum of colors represents the diversity of the autism spectrum as well as the greater neurodiversity movement.   

Spectrum of Support

Our Spectrum of Support program is a series of free events for families impacted by Autism Spectrum Disorder and other special needs.  All events are at no cost to our families.  Pre-covid, the events included; movie night, rock climbing, resource night, bowling night, pool party, Halloween party, Ninja Warrior Day and track and field day.  During COVID, we offered online soccer practice, sensory kits, acivity bags, and holiday craft kits.  

Parents and children enjoy these special days because it is a time to relax and have fun – no need to worry about being judged or having to apologize for behaviors.

Through our programs, the goal is to increase the child’s confidence, improve social skills, create friendships, improve motor skills, and have fun!

Check out upcoming events and how to register HERE.

Connection to Resources

Autism Collaborative Centers of Excellence

To connect individuals, families, and caregivers in Northeastern and North Central PA to ASD care through partnerships with community organizations and those they serve. We strive to advance a collaborative environment where participants feel they have the support they need and the inclusion and autonomy they desire.

ACCE Hubs  –  Signature Projects  –  ACCE Resources

“Our hope is that in working with each other, we will build inclusive communities that support families and empower people with ASD throughout the lifespan.”

Financial Assistance

Turn To Us offers financial assistance for the SPECTRUM Sensory Gym fees to clients who completed an application and submit and proof of financial need.

Emotional Support

There are many reasons why families with a child with autism might want emotional support. Discovering that your child has autism can change your life.  Coping with the diagnosis can be difficult.  Parents may worry that their vision for the child’s future has disappeared. They fear that their relationship with their spouse will be strained. It’s normal to feel overwhelmed.

But know that you are not alone. There are advocacy organizations, support groups, mental health professionals, and loved ones who are ready to support you and your child to the fullest.

Joining a support group can be comforting and empowering, as it allows you to connect with parents going through the same experiences you are. The group can share emotions, fears, discoveries, and resources. 

Join the Turn To Us Community on a private Facebook group: Turn To Us-Autism Moms.

Welcome CareBags

Upon completing an application and submitting proof of diagnosis, Turn To Us will mail or deliver a Welcome CareBag to you.

Items for the first set of 150 bags were purchased through a grant from Janssen and donations from community members and Dr. Helene Woodmancy.

  • Blanket
  • Tissues
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Crayons
  • Children’s books
  • Coloring books
  • Activity books – Sudoku, Crossword, Wordfind
  • Bubbles
  • PlayDoh
  • Notebook
  • Planner
  • Folder
  • Highlighter
  • Burt’s Bees Lip Balm (cancer patients only)
  • Reusable, plastic utensils (cancer patients only)
  • Toothbrushes
  • Biotene (cancer patients only)

Bags also contain branded water bottles, pen, and “I am not alone” bracelet.

Contents vary based on diagnosis and age.