San Antonio Spotlight: Autism Community Network

As part of the San Antonio community, we at Alamo City Moms Blog feel strongly that we are part of something bigger than the small worlds we operate in daily. San Antonio is a city rich with incredible not-for-profit organizations and resources that support different needs of San Antonio families, mothers, and children. Once a month, we will be spotlighting a not-for-profit agency that we feel can help our readers.

This month we are sharing Autism Community Network and a guest post from a local mom, Lisa Nash, who started a fundraiser to help benefit this organization.

The mission of Autism Community Network is to maximize the potential of children with autism by increasing autism awareness and services for families throughout the San Antonio area with an emphasis on collaboration with autism service providers, early diagnosis, and providing services to underserved young children and their families.

My son, Elliot, who is now 16 years old, was diagnosed with autism at the age of two. Soon after, he started the Early Childhood Intervention program, through Easter Seals. This allowed him to start his treatment plan immediately. Once he turned three, Elliot was then eligible to go to the public Early Childhood Learning Center for its Early Childhood Intervention program called PPCD. In the afternoons, he went to a specialized center for speech therapy and occupational therapy.

Lisa's Family

Elliot and his family.

After about a year, when Elliot started Kindergarten at the early childhood learning center, my husband and I started to notice that he was mastering the goals more quickly at a place that was specifically for autism than at a traditional school. They were using applied behavior analysis (ABA) strategies, which is a one-on-one direct teaching approach with positive reinforcement, tracked by taking data.

At this time, this small learning center was trying to start a school that would use the strategies that children with autism needed to learn. One night, God literally woke me up in the middle of the night, and I felt in my heart that I needed to write a letter to help raise funds to support learning for autistic children. So I went on to write and send the letter to about 30 of my friends, two being Mona and Perry George. All in all, the letter ended up raising over $3,000.

During this time, Shannon Turner and Kristan Northington were looking to start an annual charity luncheon and hadn’t yet selected a beneficiary. Mona George shared my letter with Kristan, who then shared it with Shannon.

Kristan Northington’s daughter and my daughter were in the same class at Christ Lutheran. While waiting in the carpool line a few days later, Kristan walked up to my window and said that Mona had shared the letter with her and that she and Shannon Turner wanted to have a luncheon benefiting the autism community.

Le Brunch des Chapeaux

This was the inaugural Le Brunch des Chapeaux, and it was the most beautiful luncheon I had ever been to—and to this day it still is. There were maybe 30–50 ladies attending, wearing elegant hats. The 12th annual Le Brunch des Chapeaux luncheon and style show by Julian Gold benefiting the Autism Community Network will take place on Thursday, April 9, 2015 at The Argyle. We expect 400 guests to attend this al fresco luncheon, and for all who attend, fabulous hats are required! The afternoon will include a guest speaker, raffle prizes, and awards for best hats.

Almost every year, I am asked to speak at the event, but I haven’t been able to since autism is such an emotional topic for me. A couple years ago, my daughter Josie spoke about her brother, Elliot. I was so proud of her—she did such a great job!

Lisa and Josie

As for me, maybe someday I’ll get the courage to do it. For now, though, I think the Lord is having me wait for the right time. Until that time, I will just continue to be overwhelmed by all the great things that are happening through Le Brunch des Chapeaux. I am eternally grateful for this event and all the hard work that is put into it every year. It’s truly making a difference, not just in my life but in the lives of those throughout our community. Le Brunch des Chapeaux is now an event under the Autism Community Network, a 501(c)3 organization that maximizes the potential of children with autism by increasing autism awareness and services for families throughout the San Antonio area.

I can’t explain how grateful I am for the Le Brunch des Chapeaux and everyone involved with it. The money that has been raised through the event has allowed for children with autism to receive therapies that their families may otherwise have not been able to afford—therapies that are critical for maximizing these children’s potential.

Not only that, but the funds raised by the Le Brunch des Chapeaux have helped bring autism awareness to our community. This awareness allows children affected by autism and their families to be more welcomed and supported when they are out and about and living their daily lives.

As we know, the rate of autism is still on the rise. Families are faced with it more than ever, creating a major challenge because the costs and time involved with interventions are significant. In most cases, it’s almost impossible for both parents to work, which only adds to the financial burden.

With that said, having a child with autism myself, I know that all the hard work, blood, sweat, and tears is worth it. It’s worth it when I get to see my child master a goal that the doctors said he may not ever be able to do.

Les Brunch De Chapeaux

Raffle tickets can be purchased to support this event HERE.

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