Autism Inclusion Resources (AIR) – AIR is the creative force behind services and solutions that will enable today’s generation of children with autism to participate more fully in the world. In addition to the services we offer, our 501(c)3) non-profit provides advocacy and education as well as conducts research into new methods of inclusion.
You fondly remember going to the circus every year as a child. From the day they were born, you have thought about sharing the experience with your own children. You arrive at the circus with great anticipation.
Your son does not want to get out of the car. You finally get him to the entrance and wait on line to get in. People in the crowd are jostling each other. Your son does not want to open his backpack for security. He is getting agitated, rocking back and forth and covering his ears. People start to stare.
Inside, your son has trouble taking his seat. The show is beginning; the lights dim and you are not yet seated. A guard approaches. Your son begins to jump, flapping his hands and making noises.
You decide to leave. Your son realizes he will not see the circus and begins a full-fledged tantrum. His sister sits and waits for you to calm him down enough to get in the car to go home.
Your son has autism. Sometimes typical family experiences and errands seem out of reach.
Every day Dr. Ross would diagnose children with autism. For that moment of truth telling, she compensated by making sure her patients had the best educational, therapeutic and medical plans that she could both devise and help them implement. Then she realized this would not be enough, not for them, and not for everyone else.
Every year that a child is not participating in the community, gaining experience, directly affects the trajectory of their lives. We do not have another year to wait. We cannot expect the rapidly growing population of those with autism to be employable and independent, if they do not have social experiences in the community as they mature.
Therapies that are delivered in real world settings provide maximum benefit for those that may not easily transfer existing skills to new environments. With this experience, our population of those with autism can meet their potential and contribute back to society. They can have a true, positive impact on our economy.
Efforts to date through outreach and special community nights are helpful, but we need more. We need realistic and true engagement. We need to work with families affected by autism AND with the community. We need a community that is educated and prepared to include those with autism. We need organizations and venues planning ahead for this population. We need inclusive strategy and design.
Think of it this way -- just as those with wheelchairs or walkers, or even moms with strollers, use physical ramps, AIR programs provide ramps for those with autism and other social disorders, through our new approach of inclusive strategy and design.
Lastly, we need to create and implement inclusion strategies AND measure their outcomes. Then we can establish a standard of care. By replicating the best of what we learn we will improve experiences. Families that have positive experiences will continue to seek more experiences in the community, impacting the trajectory of our children’s lives. Our families, their children and our society deserves no less.
“Literally, we are helping kids fly, but as a metaphor, travel is so much more than how we get from one place to another, it is how we experience opportunity.”
Wendy is the Director of the Center for Pediatric Development and founder of Autism Inclusion Resources. She is board certified in general pediatrics and developmental and behavioral pediatrics. Dr. Ross attended the Humanities and Medicine Program at Mt. Sinai School of Medicine in New York before completing a Pediatrics Residency at Yale and a developmental and behavioral pediatrics fellowship at Children’s Hospital Boston. She remained on faculty as an attending at Children’s Hospital Boston and an instructor at Harvard Medical School before moving to Philadelphia in 2006.
“Everyone has a right to experience the richness of life. We need to continually foster access and opportunity for everyone to choose and participate in meaningful activities that bring purpose to life.”
Roger is an Associate Professor of Occupational Therapy at the University of the Sciences in Philadelphia. His area of concern is access and participation in everyday community experience for children with special needs and their families. He has directed several community projects partnering inclusive Head Start preschools and early intervention programs for children with special needs with community and cultural institutions such as the ballet, theater, and museums.
“When everyone is included, everyone benefits. That’s why we do what we do.”
Angela is a licensed psychologist and certified school psychologist with a specialization in early childhood. She has evaluated and created educational plans for children of all ages with autism and other developmental disorders, learning disabilities, and social-emotional/behavioral issues. Dr. Jones is also an adjunct faculty member at Immaculata University. She currently collaborates with a variety of community settings to increase accessibility for families and children on the autism spectrum.
The work of AIR wouldn’t be possible without the assistance and dedication of these passionate and skilled individuals.
Scott Bennett Freemann, Esq. is an owner of Freemann Law Offices; a law firm dedicated to providing superior services in a responsive and cost-efficient manner. Scott's practice is concentrated in employment law and commercial and securities litigation. He has a special interest in improving the life prospects of vulnerable populations by ensuring they have access to resources and services that all of us need to live our lives. His firm's website can be accessed at freemannlaw.com.
Carol Moog, PhD, is a licensed psychologist with over 35 years of experience working with children, adolescents and adults. Her practice is diverse, with a particular emphasis on helping people with early attachment issues, social anxiety disorders and Asperger’s. Her work is relationship-based and geared towards the discovery of unique personal resources, goal clarification and skill development. Using a wide range of creative modalities, she draws from her training and experience as a theater improviser, musician, and communications consultant to help those on the autistic spectrum experience connection with others. Now a clinical associate in psychiatry at the University of Pennsylvania's School of Medicine, Dr. Moog is the Clinical Director of the Social Learning Disorders Program in addition to being the consulting psychologist at The Miquon School since 1977.
Patricia J. Voorhees, M.Ed. is an experienced travel instructor. She provides instruction on the essential competencies necessary to teach persons with intellectual or physical disabilities to travel independently. Patti firmly believes in the clinical approach to instruction; and that all Travel Instructors must demonstrate a level of competence in order to safely and effectively teach independent travel skills. Patti was a Special Education Teacher: Travel Instructor for 25 years in an Intermediate Unit in Pennsylvania.
Jay Furlong, M. Ed. Since 1999, Jay has been a Travel Instructor with the Delaware County Intermediate Unit in Pennsylvania. Prior to receiving his graduate degree in special education, he spent twenty-seven years in mass transit operations. Jay served on the board of directors of the ARC of Delaware County for eleven years; including four years as president. He is also an adjunct professor at Widener University.
Jay’s primary interest in working with students who have autism is to create the opportunity for them to become competent with their street crossing skills and problem solving ability. In recent years his greatest success has been in having students with autism learn to travel to their job independently.
AIR has the pleasure of working with outstanding institutions
At University of the Sciences, faculty and students in the occupational therapy department have developed community-service programs for children with autism and other disabilities that promote greater engagement for families. A private institution dedicated to education, research, and service, and distinguished as the nation’s first college of pharmacy, USciences has produced leaders in the science and healthcare marketplaces since its founding in 1821. Here students learn to apply their skills to improving healthcare for people worldwide and embark on a challenging learning experience in a proving ground for successful professionals in the science and healthcare-related fields. Learn more at usciences.edu.
Founded in 1961, Ivymount School and Programs provides school- and community-based services for children and young adults with special needs from throughout the Washington DC metropolitan area. The school program serves more than 200 students, ages 4–21, with speech and language impairments, learning disabilities, intellectual disabilities, and Autism Spectrum Disorders. Ivymount Outreach serves families and professionals in the community through assessments, consultation, and program/professional development. Twice recognized as a Blue Ribbon School of Excellence, Ivymount has over a dozen national and regional research and training collaborations and partnerships; assuring that our innovative and intensive approach is widely disseminated and influences the larger field of special education.