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World Autism Awareness Day

4/2/2015:

Tyler Smith was born in April of 2002. He was diagnosed with autism a few months shy of his second birthday. Luckily he was in the caring hands of his mother, Sandy Smith, and his sister, Darcy Kasprowicz. Sandy’s insurance would cover the therapy needed, but trying to find that therapy was difficult. In December of 2004 his sister Darcy put her career on hold to open a home daycare for Tyler.

The troubles Sandy and Darcy had finding care for Tyler got them talking about ways they could help others. This led to the creation of the North Dakota Autism Center in West Fargo. They incorporated in 2006, and received their 501c3 status in 2007. In May of 2008 they held their first walk for autism, and in November of 2008 their doors were opened to the public.

They are currently helping 60 patients, although many more have come through their doors. The center offers services such as daycare with a 3:1 child-to-staff ratio, which is essential for autistic kids. They also have a behavior service program that helps create a plan catered to the needs of the individual. In-home services are also provided for families that need that level of service. To help fund their efforts, they hold events such as the “Ausome Evening,” offering games, food, and a guest speaker.

The ND Autism Center is the only facility of its kind in North Dakota, and with no state funding, their ability to expand to help families in other parts of the state is limited. But there are other organizations offering help. Among them are the ND Autism Connection in Bismarck and Autism North Dakota, based in Alice.

Today is a great day to think about all such organizations, for today is World Autism Awareness Day.

Dakota Datebook written by Lucid Thomas