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Help autism locally

| Thursday, March 21, 2013, 8:55 p.m.

April is Autism Awareness Month, and while the first place that people and corporations think to donate is to Autism Speaks, I urge you to consider donating and raising funds locally this year instead.

Many do not realize Autism Speaks uses the funds it raises only for national research and awareness. While that is certainly needed and very admirable, Autism Speaks does not provide any therapy, services or support — which any parent of a child with autism will tell you is actually what's needed — in our communities.

The millions of dollars from Walk for Autism Speaks events also do not stay in the cities and communities where they were raised, whereas every donation to a local organization goes to directly helping families in our communities.

I am a parent of an autistic child. Our family received help, advocacy and hope through organizations such as the Autism Center of Pittsburgh, the PEAL Center and ABOARD. These organizations provide diagnosis, evaluations, resources for therapies and social groups, and assistance with navigating things like insurance and individualized education programs.

As someone who now works in the autism community, I know the above organizations function 100 percent on donations, and some of them in this economy are struggling to keep their doors open.

So when you decide to fundraise or write a check this April, please consider making autism “speak” locally and send that money to an organization that helps families in your area.

Jen Forsyth

Richland

The writer is fundraising director for the Autism Center of Pittsburgh (autismcenterofpittsburgh.com).

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