As a school psychologist and someone who is on the “inside” of the autism community looking out, it is often easy to forget that some of my fellow Clevelanders may be unaware of the impressive autism network we have here, at our fingertips in Northeast Ohio.
Over the years, I have gained insight to the local autism community thanks to my professional and personal involvement with Milestones Autism Resources, an agency close to my heart, that helps individuals with autism reach their potential. I have been able to experience the generosity and passion within this system firsthand, a passion that reminds me so much of the close-knit altruism within our local community.
I initially became involved with Milestones after seeing the critical need to provide autism resources to my “kids” at school and to their families. Milestones connected me with the vetted local resources I needed. This evolved into becoming an active volunteer, a participant in the Milestones conference, and most recently, into serving as co-chair for Strike It Big, one of their biggest fundraising events of the year.
Strike It Big for Milestones provides inclusion and support for individuals on the spectrum, two things the larger Northeast Ohio autism community is constantly working together to provide. Along with an afternoon of fun, bowling and other activities, this family-friendly bowling event provides a “no-judgment zone” in which children can be themselves. Through fundraising and attending the event on March 11th at Spins Bowl in Independence, the local community can come together to support Milestones’ free Autism Helpdesk, a service that allows families to contact professional staff for personal guidance and individualized information at each and every stage of their child’s development.
Being Strike It Big co-chair has enabled me to grow closer to the organization and to form deeper connections within this robust autism community that exists in Cleveland. My involvement has certainly enriched my professional knowledge but more importantly, it has enriched my life, period. I have met some incredible people through committees, meetings, school resources, and through Milestones’ annual autism conferences. I’ve been inspired by some amazing speakers over the years, the most impressive being on the autism spectrum.
Milestones has provided me with the valuable opportunity to serve the area in which I live. Through my work, I hope to introduce other individuals within the community to new ways that they can work in tandem with organizations like Milestones. There are many opportunities to support our special needs population here at home, and it is so important that we continue educating one another about the resources available.
Want to get involved? Create a bowling team now or join Milestones the day-of at Spins Bowl in Independence from 11am-3pm! Donation and sponsorship options are also available.
Edie Ungar-Shafron is a school psychologist with Orange City Schools. She is a mother of three who lives in Shaker Heights with her husband Steve.