Autism center hopes grant will help it help others
Updated: Tuesday, 27 Dec 2011, 8:14 PM CST
Published : Tuesday, 27 Dec 2011, 5:58 PM CST
- Reporter: Bill Miston
GREEN BAY – Twenty-year-old Northeast Wisconsin Technical College student Joe Morton is painting for the first time. He’s has a spectrum of colors to choose from. For the canvas he’s working on at the moment, he’s chosen red and blue.
But Joe, himself, is on a different spectrum – an autistic one.
“There are so many things that they don’t know to do,” said his mother Jody Morton of Howard.
“It doesn’t come naturally to them. And then you bring them to a painting session, like this, and they can do it,” said Jody, choking up with emotion.
Joe has a form of autism called Asperger syndrome.
And for parents with autistic children, like Jody, it can be a tough road.
“It’s not that there’s a limited amount of resources [for parents],” said Jody. “It’s just…where do you go to find them?”
One place to find resources parents need is at the Autism Center of Green Bay, located at 1298 Velp Avenue.
The center, which opened in June of this year, all began with Green Bay Autism, Inc. Founder and president Danielle Riemer.
After having trouble finding information and support from other parents with autistic children, she turned to the web and created an online pool of resources for parents back in 2007.
Now, there’s also a physical location for parents to go to.
While it may sound simple, providing that information isn’t always easy. But a recently awarded grant can help.
“Our intention is to be completely neutral and provide a finger-point in the right direction,” said Riemer, who has two children diagnosed with autism.
The $2,000 grant from the Greater Green Bay Community Foundation will pay for a year’s worth of respite care for autistic children in the area.
That will give parents, like Jody, the time to participate in autism support groups and their children the therapy they need.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, one of every 110 children in the US is diagnosed with some form of autism.
There’s no known cause and no cure.
Experts say no diagnosis is the same and therapy is often the best treatment.
“It’s important to try to identify the strengths and work with them to try to help them overcome their struggles,” said Dr. Anthony Marchlewski, a psychiatrist with Bellin Health Psychiatric Center Counseling Services.
Learning not to limit
“I think as parents, we think that there’s (sic) things they can’t do,” said Jody. “And we limit them. And we shouldn’t.”
Morton says caring for her son has been challenging at times.
But, says her son has grown since coming to the autism center and says parents should be amazed with what their children can learn.
“I am very proud,” said Morton.
The center’s grant funded programming starts in January.