Need gives rise to autism advocacy groupThe Western Wisconsin Autism Advocacy and Consulting Center are bringing a production by the esteemed Illusion Theatre to the Hudson High School auditorium April 17.
By: Margaret Ontl, Hudson Star-Observer
The Western Wisconsin Autism Advocacy and Consulting Center are bringing a production by the esteemed Illusion Theatre to the Hudson High School auditorium April 17.
The production of “Autistic License” is free, but reservations are required by calling (715) 381-8454. This is just the latest event the relatively new advocacy group has secured to educate families and the public at large about autism.
The mission statement of WWAACC is to “empower, educate and support families, caregivers, educators and service providers of children with autism spectrum disorders” and to provide resources and information in order for parents to make informed decisions regarding the needs of their child.
WWAACC is a non-profit organization developed by parents and family members of children with autism spectrum disorders. It was founded in fall 2007 and a Web site was launched in March 2008. The next month, the group opened a resource room at Special Children Center in Hudson and last fall hosted its first set of workshops.
“We all have someone in our lives with autism,” said Mary Paulson, president of WWAACC. “So we have personal experience in trying to get our needs met.” She is a mother of four, including a son with autism. Paulson has a master’s degree in social work and has worked primarily with children and families for the past 16 years. She currently works part time as a social worker in a school setting and as an instructor in an undergraduate social work program.
“The first step is diagnosis, which often takes place in Minnesota,” said Paulson. “We wanted to help people with step two, once they get back to Wisconsin, to help them answer the questions, Who do I call? What do I do?”
The resource room houses a large collection of publications and features a computer equipped with a BoardMaker software for parents to create visual supports to use at home.
WWAACC has served families in St. Croix, Pierce, Pepin and Polk counties.
Attendance has increased at the workshops started last fall.
“It is a good problem to have,” said Paulson regarding the growth. “We have organized field trips, special movie showings and really try to create situations where people can network.”
The workshops, held at Faith Community Church, are free, held in the evenings and generally only last a couple of hours. The next one is April 27 at 7 p.m. The topic is “The House that Stress Built: Support for Families and Caregivers.”
The board members, each with a different profession, share a common personal motivation and passion. They took the time to create WWAACC to be a sound, non-profit organization meeting the needs of families, caregivers, educators and the public with regards to autism spectrum disorders. For more information, visit www.wwaacc.org.