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OARacle Newsletter

OAR and the Autism Intervention Research Network on Physical Health (AIR-P) are pleased to announce the winners of the Community Grant Competition. This grant provides funding to community members to design, develop, and distribute resources that positively improve autistic individuals’ physical and mental health and quality of life. Each recipient will receive a grant ranging between $1,000 and $10,000. This year, we are pleased to award $48,555.00 to support six winners identified out of 17 submissions.  

Congratulations to this year’s Community Grant recipients!
Bridging the Double Empathy Problem: Autistic-Led Training for Primary Care

Melissa Houser 

All Brains Belong VT, Montpelier, Vermont 

Mel Houser, M.D., autistic physician and the founder and executive director of All Brains Belong VT, will lead the development of a curriculum for physicians, interdisciplinary therapists, and health professions trainees. Topics will include current health outcomes for autistic people, barriers to healthcare access, ableism and intersectional discrimination, and practical strategies for delivering neuro-inclusive healthcare. The curriculum will be delivered through recorded webinars with supplemental text and graphics. This project will build upon All Brains Belong’s 2022 Community Grant project, “Everything is Connected to Everything: Improving the Healthcare of Autistic & ADHD Adults. 

CAHELP x OAR Social Skills Video Project

Jennifer Harms 

California Association for Health and Education Linked Professions JPA (CAHELP), Apple Valley, California 

Jennifer Rountree, program specialist and PEERS facilitator at CAHELP, will lead a project team in creating additional role-play videos to supplement the use of the PEERS curriculum when teaching specific social skills related to making and keeping friends. Content for these videos will represent a diverse demographic of teenagers and include updated language matching current slang and hangouts. When completed, these role-play videos will be shared with various organizations across California, allowing for wide distribution and use by those interested in supporting social skills development. 


Jennifer Strobel  

Families for Effective Autism Treatment (FEAT) of Southern Nevada, Las Vegas, Nevada  

Jennifer Strobel, FEAT executive director, will facilitate a family advisory committee to develop new media training on financial and health resources, including how to apply for Medicaid and Social Security and Nevada-specific resources for a child recently diagnosed with autism. The
new media will be interactive and produced in both English and Spanish. 


Wendy Ross  

Jefferson Health – Center for Autism & Neurodiversity, Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania 

Wendy Ross, M.D., FAAP, director of Jefferson Health’s Center for Autism and Neurodiversity, will lead her project team to develop template materials to facilitate the accessibility and inclusion of autistic individuals at sporting events. Dr. Ross has already pioneered programs with the Philadelphia sports teams and will expand upon this work so that other teams and stadiums can adapt it. Materials will include visual supports and stories, and outcomes will be measured at pilot sites. 

Responding to Georgia Families of Young Autistic Children

Nicole Hendrix 

Partnerships for Empowerment, Autistic Acceptance, and Knowledge (PEAAK), Decatur, Georgia 

Nicole Hendrix, co-founder of the PEAAK Advisory Board, will lead her project team to develop and distribute their online and print resources to support families within the Atlanta metropolitan area in navigating access to care for their young autistic children. Funding will support PEAAK in collaborating with the broader community to get feedback on how to refine resources to be most meaningful for Atlanta families.  

Stride for Autism: A New Toolkit for Low-Income Families of Houston Texas

Janniece Sleigh 

The Arc of Harris County, Houston, Texas 

Janniece Sleigh, executive director, and Ana Esparza, parent advocate, at The Arc of Harris County, in collaboration with Antonio Pagan and Juliana Vanderburg from The University of Texas Health Science Center for Human Development Research, will lead their project to develop infographic cards and short informational videos in six primary areas: job skills, social skills, self-advocacy skills, emotional expression skills, self-care skills, and education advocacy. The goal of the learning toolkit for self-advocates and providers will be to improve and enhance the well-being of individuals with autism. 

OAR congratulates each of these recipients and extends its gratitude to AIR-P for co-sponsoring this program. Applications for next year’s competition will open on Friday, October 13, 2023. See OAR’s Community Grant Page for more information about the application process.  

Questions or comments? Please contact us at 571-977-5391 or e-mail