GDM We Rise - Spotlight on Include Autism

Include Autism: “Where autism and communities grow together.”

Include Autism is a local, San Diego nonprofit that is devoted to providing services that encourage community-wide autism inclusion. The organization takes a well rounded approach to giving Autism Spectrum Disorder [ASD] individuals the chance to thrive in society. Perhaps their most successful program has been Community Coaching. Community Coaching provides hands-on opportunities for youth with autism to flourish as active, included, and contributing members of the community.

In addition to the Community Coaching program, Include Autism also administers Volunteer & Peer PalDiscovery LinkInclusion Baseball, and Autism Inclusion Training programs. Discovery Link is an in-home, early intervention ABA therapy option for individuals and families while Autism Inclusion Training, Volunteer/Peer Pals, and Inclusion Baseball Leagues offer the community opportunities to understand, accept, and include individuals diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder into their organizational communities.

In speaking with Include Autism’s Director of Development and Outreach, Johnny Grant, he expressed that his favorite of Include Autism’s programs is the Baseball League. Inclusion Baseball League offers a recreational team activity to youths ages 5 to 22 with autism to play on a real baseball team alongside peers who don’t have autism. Consisting of both the Lounging Lizards and Thunder Pandas, the league allows players to learn sportsmanship, develop new skills and make new friends. Additionally the program has been a positive experience for families; giving parents and extended family members the opportunity to take part in what is often considered a “typical” youth activity while also providing them a support system for one another.

Saturday, April 2nd is World Autism Awareness Day, and it is also the date of Include Autism’s 9th Annual Beach Bash gala. What started as a party of 100 people at a bar to raise funds has since grown into a gala-like event with silent and live auction, cocktail and dinner reception, and plenty of notable attendees and live entertainment. Taking place at the Bahia Resort Hotel, the Beach Bash is Include Autism’s largest fundraiser of the year. But it’s more than that. This event brings together families, staff, sponsors, grantors, board members and the community in a celebration of autism inclusion while giving these contributors a chance to get to know each other and develop relationships.

With the increase in prevalence of autism, there is a large wave of ASD individuals who are entering adulthood and the workforce. This makes the work that Include Autism does all the more relevant. It may not be your brother or daughter, but we all know or know of someone with autism. Supporting individuals with autism in achieving their highest potential while encouraging awareness is what Autism Awareness Month [April] is all about. But the folks at Include Autism don’t need a month focus on autism outreach, what they do every day has a positive impact on the autism community as a whole. So we hope you can join us April 2nd and April 3rd in raising awareness of Autism while also raising funds in support of Include Autism.