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September 2011



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Sondra Williams

Sep 10, 2011


LANCASTER — As the number of children diagnosed with autism continues to increase, a local organization is gearing up to provide more information to the community about how to better assist and educate people with the developmental disorder.


For the second year in a row, the Southeastern Ohio Center for Independent Living will offer a series of free educational programs beginning next week and continuing through May that deal with various topics related to autism.


The programs are for everyone, including parents, caregivers, educators, child-care providers, social workers and resource specialists.


This is the second year SOCIL will offer an autism series to the community. Linda McDonald, community outreach coordinator for SOCIL, said the previous series proved to be informative and well-attended.


“Last year, we had 35 to 40 people in attendance on average for each program,” McDonald said. “There were just so many people wanting to learn more about autism.”


McDonald said the goal of the series is to provide attendees with resources and information that will give them direction and encouragement and also put their minds at ease.


The topics for the programs range from toilet training to dealing with stress to applying for funding and find services.


Each of the programs is led by educators, therapists or parents who have expertise in the field of autism.


“We thank the speakers for their time and efforts — many are helping with research and teaching, and we appreciate them sharing their information to help people here in Fairfield County and surrounding counties,” McDonald said.


Among the speakers who will present a program this year is Sondra Williams, a Columbus woman with high-functioning autism who has four children with Asperger’s syndrome.


Williams will kick off the series Thursday when she speaks at the Ohio University Lancaster Campus about adaptations and building foundations in the classroom and at home.


McDonald said Williams was a popular speaker last year — more than 180 people listened to her share her story at OU-L.


“People are still talking about that one, I think because she’s been there,” McDonald said. “She talks about her everyday experiences and about raising kids with Asperger’s.”


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