Cedar Rapids, IA
Pictured above: Jeff, Taylor, Leighton and Lindsey.
Founded in 1991 by a dedicated group of parents and professionals in Central Iowa, the Homestead was created to address the lack of services being provided to individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and their families. Over the past two decades, The Homestead has expanded and built a statewide network of support. One of the Homestead’s signature programs is the Children’s Autism Project (CAP) in Cedar Rapids. CAP is a center that provides one-on-one, direct Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) services for children with autism ranging from birth to nine years old. “The Children’s Autism Project has become a great way to help children, their parents and also their community,” said Steve Muller, CEO of the Homestead.
Given the overwhelming need for services in the area, CAP was quickly faced with a waiting list of families seeking support. In an effort to mitigate the wait time and begin serving these families, the Homestead created a unique parent training program called the Homestead Enhancing Lives of Parents (HELP) Parent Training Series. The six-week training program is offered to families on the waiting list so they can immediately begin learning strategies to support their child at home. Each series enrolls roughly twelve family members who participate and work with board certified behavioral analysts and other professionals to offer training specific to their child. According to Steve Muller, “The training bounces back and forth between emotionally processing the diagnosis and providing a practical skill set for family members to use in the home. This head and heart combination is key.”
Pictured above: Leighton (left) with her older sister Taylor.
Lindsey and Jeff are parents who began attending the HELP training series this past September after their daughter Leighton was diagnosed with autism. Unsure of where to turn for assistance, Lindsey and Jeff were referred to the Homestead where they were enrolled in the HELP training series. According to Lindsey, “We were very overwhelmed at first. There’s so much research out there and it was helpful to sit down with an expert who is able to synthesize the information and tell you what you need to focus on at home.”
Lindsey and Jeff are currently in their fifth week of the program and have found that the network of support that they have gained from these trainings is invaluable. Not only do parents learn strategies for daily routines at home, but they also gain a network of support from local parents and guardians that are going through the same learning process. According to Lindsey, “I have seen changes in Leighton and it has been amazing. Granted, you have to work at it, but HELP showed us the strategies we need to support our daughter at home.”
Click here to find out more about The Homestead.
The Homestead is one of nearly 50 organizations in 20 states across the country to receive a grant through New York Collaborates for Autism from the proceeds of Comedy Central’s 2012 Night of Too Many Stars benefit.
Save-The-Date for the next Night of Too Many Stars Saturday, February 28, 2015.