Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

Local News

May 1, 2009

Resources available to help autistic children

Center reaching out to local parents

When a parent receives a diagnosis of autism for a child, he or she often doesn’t know where to turn for help. A group of Kokomo women hope to provide a resource for those parents, with the opening of the Autism Resource Center of Kokomo.

The center had a grand opening Thursday at 618 E. Boulevard, to introduce its services and lending library of books and other resources.

Angela Paul, one of the founders, along with Alicia Wessendorf and Allison Hillis, said the center offers a support group for parents the first Tuesday of each month. They usually bring in an expert speaker to talk about issues, such as insurance, education law and therapy options.

“As parents, when we first got our diagnosis, you just don’t know where to turn,” she said. “There’s no other resource like this in Kokomo.”

She said the center acts as a bridge between the families and the services available to them.

The center also offers an mHBOT hyperbaric chamber, which is one of the therapies for autistic children. Paul said the nearest hyperbaric chamber had been at Carmel, and cost $75 to $95 per hour. The local center plans to charge $25 per hour, Paul said, just to cover costs.

Other services will be free, she said.

Starting later this month, Paul said, the center will offer a teen club for high-functioning autistic children, as a place for them to socialize.

“It’s not like a therapy, it’s just getting together. A lot of these kids, they don’t get invited to hang out at the ball game or the mall.”

Paul wants the center to be a place parents can turn for information and support.

“We basically want to help other people know they’re not the only people going through the things they are going through. We have advice, relief and comfort in knowing there are other people around to share experiences and information we’ve gathered to help families deal with different things, to empower parents to advocate for their children.”

For more information about the Autism Resource Center of Kokomo Inc., call (765) 210-0226 or go to www.arc-kokomo.org.

Danielle Rush may be reached at (765) 454-8585 or via e-mail at danielle.rush@kokomotribune.com

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