April is a time for enjoying Michigan sun, showers, and seeking out the first buds of spring. It is also a month where we especially strive to appreciate and support our friends, family, and others with autism. For those who are unfamiliar with autism, it is a developmental disorder that spans dozens of signs and symptoms. Some people might have it worse than others, but all can make progress with love and support.
Of the organizations meant to support those with autism, The Friendship Circle’s Tzvi Schectman says, “They provide essential services such as advocating on behalf of individuals with autism and their families, providing vocational opportunities and support, as well as arrange recreational and social programs for individuals with autism.” Below, find a list of these Lower Peninsula organizations and a general overview of the services they provide.
Organization #1: The Friendship Circle
The Friendship Circle is a nonprofit stationed out of West Bloomfield. It provides an array of services to more than 3,000 individuals and families with special needs. Their organization is run by local Jewish community members, but anyone may get involved by volunteering at their programming events. Their West Bloomfield location is simply gorgeous. It contains basketball courts, a simulated-living town, and a large activity wing. As someone who has been there before, I feel it necessary to highlight the Weinberg Village. Here they run a ‘Lessons for Life’ program. More information about this program is found here.
Organization #2: The Autism Centers of Michigan
With locations in Traverse City, Saginaw, and Okemos, The Autism Centers of Michigan service major Michigan populations very effectively. Notably, they pride themselves on individualized evidence-based treatment. Moreover, they offer high-quality school, home, community, and center-based services to whom they support.
Organization #3: Judson Center
The Judson Center is much like JVS. They offer various services like mental health care, adoption, and employment help for those with disabilities. The Judson Center helps people with mental health and developmental challenges, in addition to survivors of abuse. As for their autism services, the Judson Center has a variety of social skill groups therapeutic services, among other things. They have locations all throughout Southeast Michigan in Flint, Warren, Royal Oak, Ann Arbor, and Redford.
Organization #4: JVS
JVS is a very diverse program. They provide services to the elderly and job-seeking individuals. Additionally, this organization also serves disabled people in the Metro Detroit area. They have programming that has helped my brother and hundreds (if not thousands) of special needs people find work at places they normally might not be able to get it. Furthermore, a major part of JVS’s mission is to help provide job and general support to people who really need it. Consequently, they run events all the time with the purpose of helping people find and secure jobs.
Organization #5: Mid-Michigan Autism Association
The Mid-Michigan Autism Association is a nonprofit located in our state’s capital. Volunteers operate this agency entirely. Their Board of Directors clearly has a passion for this type of work and it shows. Coming up on April 19th is an autism-friendly music event in which they partnered with Michigan State University. More information about this event (and others) can be found out here.
Other organizations you should support:
If anything should be taken away from this article, it’s that the importance of these organizations cannot be overstated. Personally, these organizations mean a lot to me because my brother has autism. I know firsthand how his life is now changed because of these featured organizations.
For an introduction to autism, consider seeing The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime. It is showing at East Lansing’s Wharton Center from April 11-16, 2017. This five-time Tony Award-winning play surrounds a highly intelligent autistic teenager and his quest to discover the true identity of a dog’s killer. Further information and tickets are available here.
Are there any organizations we left out that also deserve support? Any experiences with the ones above? Let us know.