First two events in a larger series
On Monday, December 9, Autism Society of Nebraska (ASN) co-hosted two distinct events that are helping to foster stronger connections among the autism community in the Grand Island/Tri-Cities area.
In the morning, ASN partnered with Autism Center of Nebraska (ACN) and the Nebraska ASD Network to host the first event, a PEERS(R) training for more than 40 educators, caregivers, and others who work and/or live with adults on the autism spectrum. The PEERS curriculum was developed at UCLA by Dr. Elizabeth Laugeson over a decade ago, and has been gradually gaining popularity nationwide. Jamie Lewis, MAE, MSOTR/L, Annette Wragge, M. Ed., BCBA, and Mary Schlieder presented the material.
In the evening, ASN and ACN hosted a community gathering that featured representatives from 22 Nebraska autism-related agencies as well as more than 30 individuals with a personal connection to autism.
Both events took place at the Grand Island Public Schools Kneale Administration Building in Grand Island. Melody Pebley, Special Education Supervisor at Grand Island Public Schools, was crucial in helping to facilitate the event.
PEERS Training event inspires people who work with adults
“The people who attended the PEERS training seem very excited about implementing the program in their communities,” said Megan Misegadis, President of the Autism Society of Nebraska Board of Directors.
“The evening event really showed us that people in Grand Island autism community are hungry for services and resources,” said Julie Czepa, Vice-President of the Autism Society of Nebraska Board of Directors, “and that the various agencies are willing to collaborate with each other to work for the best outcomes of people affected by autism.”
Many of the 40+ attendees of the daytime event said that they could imagine implementing a PEERS program in the near future to benefit adults or teens with whom they work regularly. One such attendee was Rose K., a Developmental Learning Program specialist from Lexington Public Schools.
Evening event connected people with agencies
Attendees of the evening event were grateful for the opportunity to get to know representatives from local agencies and reported feeling empowered to seek resources as they need them.
Presenting agencies at the evening community gathering included Autism Society of Nebraska, Autism Center of Nebraska, ARC of Central Nebraska, Boystown, Children’s Rehab Center, First National Bank – eNable Accounts, Grand Island Police Department, Integrated Life Choices, Kids and Dreams Foundation, Munroe Meyer Institute, Nebraska Vocational Rehabilitation, MOSAIC, Mary Lanning Healthcare, PTI Nebraska, Nebraska Transition College, Goodwill of Grand Island, and Disability Rights Nebraska among others.
Big impact, headed toward even more lives impacted
Between both events, more than 120 people were served. An even greater impact will be felt when attendees of the training session implement PEERS programs in their communities and attendees of the evening event share information with their families and friends.
This series represents one of the most significant and impactful programs the Autism Society of Nebraska has produced in recent history. ASN seeks to continue to serve as a unifying force across the state for many years to come.
The next two events in this series will feature a PEERS training in Milford (at the ESU 6 building) and a community gathering in Lincoln on January 30.