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Join a Family Chapter for Support, Education, and Fun

Now that the kids are settled into the new school year and the holidays are approaching, are you looking for some activities with families that “get it”? Check out our more than 70 Chapters and Support Groups serving families in 73 counties across the state! They are offering many events and meetings – outdoor, online, or inside with COVID safety protocols. See our website calendar for details.

ASNC’s Connections Specialist, Nicole Sevigny, also 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 building communities of support for families like yours.

The Richmond County Chapter hosted an outdoor fall festival on a recent Saturday, complete with hayrides, pumpkin carving, outdoor games, a cookout, and mini-donkeys. Fun was had by all! The Richmond County Chapter also held an informative back-to-school workshop with Autism Resource Specialist Amy Perry in August. While their parents learned, kids had fun at a slime-making dance party. Later in August, the Chapter facilitated crisis intervention training for 20 Richmond County first responders by Amy Perry.

The Person County Chapter collaborated with a local movie theater to host a sensory-friendly movie in October. Chapter families also met for their regular support meeting outside, with children painting pumpkins while the parents talked, and enjoyed a trunk or treat event at the end of the month.

The Orange/Chatham Chapter has been hosting some great outdoor activities, including a sing-along at a local park shelter led by a music therapist and a scavenger hunt at a park. Their local support meetings are also held outside on the back patio of a restaurant, where members sit spaced apart to chat.

New Hanover County Chapter families got together for fun at a park over the Labor Day weekend. Several families attended and enjoyed the company of other Chapter families, pizza, and the splash pad.

Iredell County Chapter families got together to bowl on a recent Saturday. Young and old, all had a blast – even service dog Fergie.

The Jackson/Swain/Qualla Chapter has been rotating between virtual and in-person, socially distanced meetings at a local park. Each month there is a caregiver theme or game for kids who attend. The Crystal Coast and Pitt County Chapters also have been holding successful virtual meetings with great conversation and friendships made. The Rowan County Chapter recently had a fun coffee chat for members on an outdoor patio. The Granville/Vance Chapter chose a park for in-person meetings this fall so members could bring lawn chairs to sit in a distanced circle. Children were able to play on a nearby fenced playground.

The Wayne County Chapter held a successful hybrid meeting at the end of August. With Teams open on a laptop at the meeting site, attendees both online and in-person could hear each other and participate. Jolona Kinlaw, Chapter Leader and Autism Resource Specialist, led a discussion on social anxiety, and members shared concerns for both themselves and their loved ones on the spectrum. RCC Lauren Buhrmaster said it was wonderful to come together in person (with restrictions) and also have Chapter members join from their homes.

The Haywood County Chapter participated in the WNC Run/Walk for Autism in September. Leader Tenisea Higgins and Treasurer Nora Doggett served as dedicated volunteers, and other members also helped make the event a success. It was a beautiful day of much-needed camaraderie and celebration among families that have loved ones on the spectrum and their supporters in the community! The Haywood County Chapter also enjoyed a sensory-friendly visit with a local fire department this month, and in November, they will host a caregivers’ night out at a local Sip & Paint place. For December, they will offer a sensory-friendly Santa experience.

The Chowan County Chapter set up an information table at the NC Rock Autism Music Festival, an annual summer event that unites the community to advocate, educate, and raise money. The Hertford event featured music from local bands, and it was a wonderful opportunity to provide awareness for our northeastern NC Chapters.

The Wilson County Chapter had a back-to-school event at a local park the week before school. Chapter families enjoyed free pizza and some playtime for the kids despite rain ending the event early.

Surry County Chapter families got together in August to celebrate “Back to School.” They had dinner together and then all went to Walmart to shop for school supplies bought by the Chapter. The families were very grateful because so many people are still out of work. Participating families agreed to volunteer to help with upcoming Chapter events and activities.

The Wake County Chapter and its Parents of Teens Support Group continued to meet online over the summer. They also had fun in August at the Chapter’s first in-person event since the pandemic, a teen social at a park shelter! The teens enjoyed pizza and some games, including a water balloon toss. The Chapter is also hosting an adult autistic group that is planning some social opportunities for the adults to meet in person.

Crystal Coast Chapter families came out in July for a Morehead City Marlins game. About a dozen families were able to purchase discounted tickets, and a local realty company sponsored them. Every time the home team struck a batter out, the Chapter was mentioned by the announcer and received a donation, for a total of more than $200. Fun was had by all, and the Chapter hopes to make it an annual event.

Campus Clubs at App State, ECU, and UNC Chapel Hill all participated in their campus recruitment fairs at the beginning of their school years. Some fairs were virtual while others were in person. App State planned a scavenger hunt for their first meeting to show members around places that the club uses on campus. Campus Clubs provide volunteer opportunities with the autism population and host autism awareness events throughout the semester. It’s wonderful to see these clubs still active in such a challenging time for students as the pandemic continues. If you know a student enrolled at a North Carolina college campus or community college who wants to develop a campus club, contact ASNC Regional Chapters and Campus Club Coordinator Meleah Lowe at mlowe@autismsociety-nc.org.


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

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