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October 09: Comforting Ties Autism Support Group

Sandy Knollman and her family

Sandy Knollman and her family

Information provided by Sandy Knollman.

Number of Members: Regular is about 5-10, but e-mail invites go out to about 250 people.

How long have you been in existence: I started this support group in October 2008, but the meetings started in December 2008.

How often do you meet: We meet once per month, usually the first Monday of every month.

Where do you meet: Gloria Schilling has graciously offered for us to use her home as a meeting place until we are able to find a permanent location or until we get the autism resource center opened.

What time do you meet: Usually from 6-8 PM. I end up staying later than that talking with everyone that was able to stay a little longer.

Are you able to offer childcare: Not at this time, but we are hoping to in the near future.

Describe the events that your group has sponsored (awareness fairs, walks, etc.): I had a table at the 2009 Cincinnati Walk Now for Autism. Applying for a grant through the state of KY in order to pay for a group of parents to attend a 5 week class taught by Cincinnati Childrens Hospital.

How do you balance your meeting (workshops vs informal topic discussions): It's been about every 3rd month that we'll have a speaker. I'm a firm believer in that I don't want to force my opinion about treatment options to people, as I don't want other's views forced on me. I've been trying to keep the speaker topics as generic as possible so as not to offend anyone (managing family stress, back to school tips, etc.).

Relate a success story from your group (either as a group or as an individual): I actually have 2 success stories, one individual and one as a group. The individual success story has been connecting people within the group itself. There are several people who regularly attend the group that have become good friends since meeting at one of the meetings. The group success story is that Connie Forman and I met at the meeting in January, and we have started a company called Autism 4 Families. We are in the process of applying to become a non-profit and hope to open an autism resource center as soon as possible. Connie was approached by a representative of the Cincinnati Museum Center and the Autism Society of Greater Cincinnati to see if we could figure out a way to get the word out services as a collaborative effort.

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