Giving Wednesday: Autism Action Partnership empowers people on the spectrum

Originally Published: February 24, 2021

Giving Wednesday: Autism Action Partnership empowers people on the spectrum

Autism Action Partnership is one of 21 organizations that will benefit from donations on Giving Wednesday, as a member of the Combined Health Agencies Drive and partner of the United Way of the Midlands.

Autism Action Partnership can follow participants from a young age through adulthood. The goal is to empower people with autism and educate others on how to support their friends, family and peers on the spectrum.

“It’s unfortunately a population that’s often defined by a disability, and so when they’re finally able to shine and be seen for the value that they have and what they can bring to a team, it’s an amazing thing to witness,” said Dougherty.

Ellen Garfoot receives services from Autism Action Partnership. Garfoot was diagnosed with autism when she was 17.

“So my parents suspected that I had autism at a young age, so I was getting speech therapy, physical therapy, that kind of thing,” said Garfoot. “I can’t really just jump into conversations as easily as other people.”

Now 24 years old, Garfoot loves to spend time with her family and works as a cashier at Scheels All Sports.

“It helps me to practice my social skills and become less anxious talking to people,” said Garfoot.

The organization’s workforce program “PACE” helps pair great employees on the autism spectrum, like Garfoot, to great employers.

“We work with employers to conduct those assessments, figure out what their needs are, and if we think that we have clients, participants who we think could fulfill those needs, and then we work with individuals with autism who are seeking employment,” said Doughtery.

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