At OAR, we strive to support local communities with valuable resources, support autistic individuals preparing for employment, and raise funds to support practical autism research studies. Below are some ways you can join our mission and help make a difference.
GOAL 1: TEACH CHILDREN ABOUT THEIR AUTISTIC PEERS.
According to the most recent data provided by the U.S. Department of Education, over 91% of autistic students attend general education classes for all or part of the day. Yet even with such high levels of inclusion, the presence of autistic students in general education classrooms alone does not create understanding. Autistic people are part of every community. When children learn about autism at a young age, the understanding that comes with it leads to friendship and more welcoming learning environments.
That’s why OAR developed the Kit for Kids, a peer education program to help educators teach students in grades K-8 about autism. The kit revolves around “What’s Up with Nick?”, a story about a new student named Nick, who as it turns out has autism. It teaches children that autistic students like Nick are kids just like them even if they may think differently or need some accommodations. Most important, the lesson is that all students are of equal worth and should be treated as such. Since 2012, more than 150,000 students have learned about autism through the Kit for Kids. Together, let’s reach an additional 5,000 students by the end of April.
How you can help
The Kit for Kids is designed for anyone who works with young people – educators, parents, youth group advisors, and other volunteers. Help us by bringing the Kit for Kids to your school or organization. You can use the Kit for Kids materials to help start class discussions, enhance school campaign efforts, and help build friendship among classmates through greater understanding of autism.
In addition to telling the “What’s Up with Nick?” story, teachers can also use:
- OAR’s Autism Tuned In website, which features animated videos and online games about Nick.
- Friendship Tip Sheets, which encourage students to be good friends to their autistic classmates.
- Kit for Kids Activity Workbooks, which help students engage with the materials presented in the rest of the Kit for Kids.
GOAL 2: PROVIDE INFORMATIONAL RESOURCES FOR FAMILIES, EDUCATORS, PROFESSIONALS, AND AUTISTIC PEOPLE.
OAR’s comprehensive Life Journey Through Autism guidebooks offer high-quality, research-based information for parents, teachers, and autistic individuals. These resources cover important topics such as education, safety, and transition to adulthood. This year, OAR hopes to distribute 5,000 Life Journey Through Autism guides to families, individuals, schools, community organizations, police and fire stations, and libraries.
How you can help:
OAR is a national organization, but you are an expert on your own local community. Help us by:
- Reaching out to local support groups, families, schools, organizations, community centers, or first responders who might benefit from these resources.
- Signing up to be an autism materials distributor and helping to spread the word about these resources through Facebook, Twitter, and other social media.
Your efforts will help others learn more about autism and be better community members to the autistic adults and children around them. Download any of our resources for free or order up to two paperback copies of our guides for free in our online store. For bulk orders, contact programs @researchautism.org.
GOAL 3: SUPPORT AUTISTIC JOBSEEKERS AND BUILD AN EMPLOYER NETWORK.
Since 2017, Hire Autism has directly supported more than 460 autistic jobseekers as they pursue employment. Hire Autism’s top goals for April are to register 120 new jobseekers on HireAutism.org, recruit 25 volunteers for our Navigator Program, and recruit 25 new employer partners.
How you can help:
Support Hire Autism in helping autistic jobseekers by:
- Signing up to become a Hire Autism navigator and directly help individuals prepare for the job search by providing feedback on their resume or cover letter.
- Applying to join our Regional Ambassador Pilot Program to help expand Hire Autism’s employer network and the number of opportunities available to autistic jobseekers.
- Asking your employer to join as a Hire Autism employer partner. Hire Autism is free for employers.
- Spreading the word about Hire Autism by referring a jobseeker or sharing our step-by-step guides and resources.
To learn more about how you can get involved or contribute to Hire Autism’s mission, contact Amanda Rioux at arioux @researchautism.org.
GOAL 4: RAISE FUNDS TO SUSTAIN OAR’S PROGRAMS AND RESOURCES.
RUN FOR AUTISM is OAR’s signature charity running and fundraising program. Its goal is to raise $100,000 for OAR during April and have over 500 athletes signed up to dedicate their 2021 miles to autism research. Starting April 1, the Active for Autism Virtual 5K & Kids Dash will be back for its fourth year in a row. All funds raised will go to OAR’s Changing Lives Fund, which supports research grants and resource distribution. The name of the fund comes from OAR’s mission tasks: Raise Money. Fund Research. Change Lives.
How you can help:
- Join us for this event that can be completed virtually from anywhere during the month of April, and dedicate your virtual miles to autism research. Through your support of the Active For Autism Virtual 5K & Kids Dash, you are directly supporting OAR’s ultimate objective: to change lives.
- Sign up today to run, walk, bike, or swim with RUN FOR AUTISM, or share this opportunity with someone you know who wants to run or join the campaign.
For more information, contact Sean Flynn, Director of RUN FOR AUTISM, at 703-243-8020 or run @researchautism.org.