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MidWeek Staff

Supporting Families Impacted By Autism

By Jessica Wong-Sumida, executive director, Autism Society of Hawaii

The Autism Society of Hawaii (A.S.H.) is a 501(c)(3) organization that serves families and individuals living with autism. Our mission is to improve the lives of all families in the state touched with autism and related disorders by encouraging meaningful participation and self-determination in all aspects of life for individuals on the autism spectrum and their families. The Autism Society accomplishes its ongoing mission through a combination of providing up-to-date information, advocacy and support for multiple age groups and various areas of needs. In addition to community services, we host special events such as the SPED Winter Ball (open to all special needs students on Oahu) and sensory-friendly films.

One current project focuses on the need for exercise in the lives of special needs children. In collaboration with CrossFit Hi Town Fitness, we created a pilot program that began in early February. Trainers at CrossFit HTF created an exercise regimen that includes task-based exercises, which mimic the function of daily movements. The pilot program was such a success with students that CrossFit HTF graciously decided to continue the free program indefinitely. Ultimately, we wanted to create an exercise program that could be taught to other fitness professionals/instructors for replication in educational institutions and fitness centers. The collaboration between both fitness and mental health professionals makes this program truly unique. Any inquiries about this program should be directed to CrossFit HTF, Attn: Rae Lam, at kaizogirl@hotmail.com.

The CDC’s most recent statistics show that one in 50 children is living with autism. Surprisingly, health insurance providers in Hawaii do not cover the costs of treatment for autism. A.S.H. strives to increase community awareness through various events, and continues to advocate statewide and nationally. These outreach efforts are made possible by charitable donations and fundraising initiatives. If you’d like to support A.S.H., please join us at our upcoming Arts for Autism Fundraiser Sept. 20 at 5:30 p.m. at TheVenue. For more information, email autismhi@gmail.com.

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