Strike It Big Raises Nearly $70,000 for Local Autism Community

This month, Milestones Autism Resources’ annual Strike it Big Bowling Extravaganza returned for its sixth year. On Sunday, March 11th, over 80 teams comprised of more than 400 bowlers gathered at Spins Bowl in Independence to bowl in support of the local autism community. As a result of the tremendous efforts of our sponsors, bowlers, and volunteers, the event raised nearly $70,000 for Milestones’ free autism Helpdesk, a service which allows families to contact Milestones’ professional staff for personal guidance and local resources.

Participants included eight school districts and colleges, plus community members and business owners from all across Cleveland.

The fun-filled day also included balloon twisting, face painting, a raffle, a photo booth and a special appearance by Cleveland Browns mascot Chomps.

Milestones would like to thank everyone who helped make this year’s fundraiser a wonderful success.

If you haven’t had the chance to donate, please consider making a contribution here.

Response to Bullying Incident in Parma Heights, OH

Milestones Autism Resources is incredibly disheartened to hear of the recent bullying incident at Greenbriar Middle School involving a young boy with autism. Any act of verbal or physical harassment is unacceptable.

Evidence suggests that individuals with autism are highly vulnerable to bullying, with over 60% of children with autism reporting being bullied at some point in their lives. Milestones can provide support to individuals, families, or school teams seeking resources to combat the occurrence of bullying and the emotional trauma that may result.

If you or someone you know is experiencing bullying and is in need of individualized resources, please call the Milestones free autism Helpdesk at 216.464.7600.




Milestones Police Training Offers Practical Strategies to First Responders

Last month, over 100 first responders gathered at the La Casa Bella Party Center in Oakwood Village, OH, for a training about autism and how to interact with individuals with ASD. The training, led by Milestones Autism Resources Program Director Beth Thompson, allowed participants to learn how to handle common issues like eloping, sensory overload, and communication challenges. At least 40 local police departments were represented as well as firefighters, school security and special agents from the FBI.

“The autism community knows the danger of first responders not receiving the training they need to work with individuals on the autism spectrum,” said Thompson. “Milestones is proud to provide that education to our community of first responders.”

During the training, the crowd also heard from a panel of self-advocates and parents of individuals with ASD. Nathan Morgan, who joined the Milestones team in February as an Early Childhood & School Age Coordinator, was one of the panelists in attendance.

“As a social worker, it was enlightening to hear the diverse perspective of the officers,” said Morgan. “As an autism self-advocate, it was empowering to share my voice and perspectives to promote positive interactions between persons with autism, their loved ones, and the officers serving the community.”

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Response to School Shooting in Parkland, Florida

The entire team at Milestones Autism Resources mourns the loss of the 17 victims in Parkland, Florida. We are deeply saddened by such a tragic event. In light of speculation that the assailant may have autism, we support the following statement from the Autism Society of America: “No reliable research has found that a person who is autistic is more likely to commit violence than a person without an autism diagnosis.”

We ask that those reporting on this matter avoid suggesting a linkage between senseless violence and autism. Suggesting such a correlation between the two misrepresents the millions of individuals in America affected by autism. In fact, research has shown that individuals with autism are more likely to be victims of violence than those without autism.

Again, our thoughts are with those affected by this tragic event. We hope effective solutions are developed to prevent such devastating loss in the future.

If you have any concerns or questions, please call Milestones at 216.464.7600 for local information and support during this time.

Ask the Expert – Tim Averre, Orange City Schools

As Transition Coordinator for Orange City Schools, the primary focus of my job is to assist families and students in the coordination of transition services that will enable favorable post-secondary outcomes. Or in less formal language, I help connect individuals with agencies, activities and services that will assist them in reaching their goals for life after high school. These goals address the areas of post-secondary education, employment, and independent living.

In this role, I have also created resources, such as the Transition Portal, a website for students, parents and staff to familiarize themselves with topics and resources pertaining to transition. The site also includes electronic surveys and forms that enable the IEP team to gather specific information about a student’s “PINS”: preferences, interests, needs and skills. PINS are needed in order to develop an individualized transition plan for each student turning 14 years old until completion of school services upon acceptance of the high school diploma.

Having served in transition and intervention positions for many years now, my main advice is to always remember that transition is a marathon not a sprint. The significance of the transition to adulthood cannot be understated, and is arguable the very purpose of all educational activities (within and outside of school services) prior to graduation. Therefore, it is a topic that cannot be comprehensively addressed in one article, nor completely mastered in a year, or four, or thirty. With that being the case, families and students must focus on identifying your PINS, being able to advocate for yourself, and picking one transition topic to study each year until graduation from high school. I have yet to meet someone no longer working on obtaining their transition goals, myself included. We must consistently utilize our awareness of preferences, interests, needs and skills to make future education and training, vocational and living decisions. I believe doing so helps us all reach the highest level of satisfaction and meaning in our lives.

It is highly unlikely that anyone’s path follows a straight, predictable line, steadily advancing upward.  For the vast majority of us, there are a lot more peaks and valleys, abrupt turns and unexpected detours on our quest to reach adulthood. Each one of us is responsible for how we interpret the detours and how quickly we choose to reassess our goals and revise our strategies for attaining them.

Some detours help us identify new preferences and interests, such as a waterfall or scenic vista. Others present as obstacles for us to utilize skills and identify needs, such as the bridge being out, or steeper terrain. When the gap between skills and needs can be remedied with acquisition of knowledge through training, or utilization of accommodations, such as turn by turn navigation on our GPS, we find we can stay the course! When the gap between needs and skills is too great, such as a bottomless pit with spike-covered walls and floating snakes wielding flamethrowers, we are able to adjust our route or determine if a different destination altogether serves us best.
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