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New Connections for the New Year

It’s a new year, and we are all looking forward to new opportunities. We are setting goals, making plans, and renewing our hopes.

If one of your goals is to find a community of support for yourself and your family, we invite you to join your local Autism Society of North Carolina Chapter. These support groups are led by and filled with other parents, caregivers, professionals, and self-advocates who have traveled a journey similar to yours. They understand and can share their learned experience with you. Together, you can raise autism awareness in your local community.

We have more than 70 Chapters and Support Groups serving families in 72 counties across the state. Many of them are offering monthly video chats for support and information; see our website calendar for details. ASNC also offers Campus Clubs at five colleges across NC for students who are interested in improving the lives of people on the spectrum.

ASNC’s Connections Specialist, Nicole Sevigny, would be happy to help you find the Chapter in your area. Call her at 800-442-2762.

Read on for some of the creative and fun ways our Chapter members are supporting each other during this time of isolation.

The Haywood County Chapter joined forces with the Asheville services office to rent out a local drive-in theater for a private showing of Hotel Transylvania! Families said they had a great time, enjoying a safe and judgement-free evening. One mom mentioned that her child could rock and flap as much as he wanted, while another said it was good practice for her child, who also watched YouTube videos on a phone during the movie. In November, the Haywood Chapter invited autistic artist DJ Svoboda to its online meeting to speak about his challenges and obstacles growing up on the spectrum and his Imagifriends. One mom expressed gratitude for the meeting and said she had her child listen as well.

The new Rutherford County Chapter Leader, Amy Zelent, got off to an active start. The Chapter is meeting each Friday morning for a COVID-safe walking group on a local school track, along with a monthly walk on a Saturday. The Chapter also hosted a virtual ugly Christmas sweater party that was a lot of fun.

The Surry County Chapter kept up several of its annual traditions while still following safety guidelines. At the fall festival, families had fun posing for pictures in front of the harvest scene, some in costume, and went home with pumpkins, decorating kits, games, and candy. Chapter Leader Bridget Soots set up time ranges for families to keep attendance spread out and safe. In December, the Chapter also distributed gift bags to families and logo doormats to volunteers.

Person County Chapter families enjoyed two drive-thru social events in the past couple of months: an ice cream social and a visit with Santa. Santa’s elves were happy to help hand out goodies with their magic wands as the children let Santa know exactly what they wanted for Christmas. The children smiled enthusiastically – and enjoyed their candy – after having the chance to see Santa from the safety of their own cars. Chapter Leader Cindy Martin also has been working on some creative ways to spread the word about the Chapter with yard signs and a T-shirt. She wants to ensure that anyone who needs support knows about the Chapter.

The Crystal Coast Chapter gave out sensory items and “Fun at Home” kits for Chapter families in lieu of their annual holiday party. The children were so excited to receive these gift bags at a drive-thru event! Families posted pics and thank-yous in the Chapter’s Facebook group.









Amy Seeley can be reached at aseeley@autismsociety-nc.org.



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