2017-05-18 / News

New hope for adults, teens with autism exists

BY TANYA TERRY
810-452-2645 • tterry@mihomepaper.com


Joey Colombatto (left) and his twin brother Ashton Colombatto (right) hold up the caterpillar and butterfly balloons Michael Webb, balloon twister, made them at Garrett’s Place’s grand opening celebration. 
Photos by Tanya Terry Joey Colombatto (left) and his twin brother Ashton Colombatto (right) hold up the caterpillar and butterfly balloons Michael Webb, balloon twister, made them at Garrett’s Place’s grand opening celebration. Photos by Tanya Terry BURTON — New opportunity for socializing and support is available to individuals with autism and their families through Garrett’s Place Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) Life Skills Center, which hosted its grand opening celebration May 13.

Monthly socials for teens and adults on the autism spectrum will begin at the center immediately. Many types of classes are planned for such individuals that can aid their growth and development and promote a better quality of life.

“Autism is a unique diagnosis,” said Amy Morris, director of family and community education for Garrett’s Place, which is owned by the Autism Support and Resource Center, a 501(c)(3) non-profit. “Those with autism have unique challenges, like with any disability. So, it’s helpful for individuals with autism and their families to have a supportive community.”


Garrett’s Place Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) Life Skills Center hosted its grand opening celebration May 13. Garrett’s Place Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) Life Skills Center hosted its grand opening celebration May 13. At the socials to be held in Garrett’s Place, G-4476 S. Dort Hwy., individuals on the spectrum at different levels can play games and build friendships. At some socials, attendees can also have dinner.

“Young teens need a sense of autonomy and a sense of belonging in a group,” Morris said.

Because girls are diagnosed far less frequently and they have specific needs, a Girls Club for females ages 10-18 is offered.

Socials for kids are held in the Autism Support and Resource Center’s main building. Like all the socials, it is also intended to help parents meet and connect with other parents of children with autism.

Morris’ background is in social work and psychology. Executive Director Anne Haley’s background is in education.

“In addition to the experience we both have in education, we both have children with autism, which I believe is key in these roles,” Morris said.

Classes will also be held at the newly opened center in cooking and cleaning, budgeting and finance, social skills, exploration of recreational hobbies, as well as pre-drivers’ training.

“We’ll also be helping with pre-employment skills; resume writing, interviewing and college placement,” Morris said. “A lot of our members are planning on attending college.”

The grand opening celebration featured a bounce house, a balloon twister, food catered by Italia Gardens and special speaker Ron Sandison, a famous author and speaker living with autism.

Another event is an upcoming golf fundraiser, sponsored by Rock Bottom Stone Supply, called Driving Fore Autism, to be held June 24, at The Jewel of Grand Blanc.

In its first two years, the outing raised around $80,000. Money raised this year will be used for Garrett Place’s general operating budget, and will primarily be used for staffing, curriculum and supplies.

There are currently about 1,000 children in Genesee County who have been diagnosed with autism. The Autism Support and Resource Center has more than 500 families that currently utilize its services, including those from other counties.

“We imagine we will also service hundreds through Garrett’s Place, both teens and adults,” Morris said. “It will give them opportunity to meet and engage with others with similar interests and difficulties.”

For details or to register for Driving Fore Autism, visit www.geneseeautism.org, or call 810-742-5404.

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