Reconnect 4 Autism was designed by professionals that have been touched by a loved one with autism. The program provides outreach to individuals and families on the autism spectrum. Reconnect 4 Autism was initially supported by the Corinth/Alcorn Parks and Recreation as well as Region IV Mental Health Agency. The outreach done by Reconnect targets families in the 4 county area of Alcorn, Prentiss, Tippah and Tishomingo.
We are encouraged by all of the support we have received. It is our heartfelt purpose and goal to be a positive asset to the community. Our main focus is to provide families affected by autism with a welcoming community that promotes positivity and acceptance. Reconnect is a unique support system because we not only provide assistance with a wide array of autism issues on a professional level, we are also parents of children on the autism spectrum. On a professional level, we can help individuals develop social skills, offer insight on specific behavioral issues, provide information and assistance by accessing helpful resources through the services of Region IV/Timber Hills. On a personal level, we strive to create an empathic environment that facilitates a strong feeling of belonging and emotional support through interactive outreach programs.
Reconnect4Autism has been holding monthly activities for autism families in the crossroads area since April 2015 when the group held its first annual color run. The group is utilizing the funds from the color run and our many amazing sponsors to host monthly activities for autism families.
The board for Reconnect is comprised of individuals who all work as professionals in various areas of the local community mental health agency, Region IV/Timber Hills, as well as whom all are personally affected by a loved one with an autism spectrum disorder diagnosis. The majority of the board are autism parents themselves who have a desire to see other families in the community have opportunities to be active and supported.
Already there have been positive experiences from the activities hosted by the group. There have been 4 fun days one filled with bouncy houses and a petting zoo. Another outreach was a back to school pool party. Our Tricks and Treats Family Fun Fall Festival was a great alternative to traditional trick-r-treating. These activities were designed for autism families. Our team works to make the events as sensory friendly as possible. One way of doing this is to limit the crowd. Another way is providing an environment of understanding which can produce a natural support system for families to relax and have fun without judgement.
Another area that Reconnect 4 Autism wanted to make possible for families is the opportunity to experience movies in a theater. Malco Theaters was willing to allow Reconnect 4 Autism the opportunity to do just that by offering sensory friendly films in the Corinth cinema. Going to see the newest movie to come out is something that most families take for granted. To families who have children and other individuals with special needs going to a crowded, dark and loud movie theater can be a horrible experience so most give up or never even try. Reconnect has hosted 3 sensory friendly films so far with averaging over 100 in attendance. There have been new families at each film with success stories of a child “making it through their very first theater movie” as the parents have stated with excitement. To provide the sensory friendly environment Malco makes some easy adjustments to the setup of the theater which include the sound being left low and the lights being left up on dim so it’s not totally dark. These are also fragrance free so as to be respectful to those who may have allergies and sensitivities, so attendees are encouraged not to wear strong perfumes or colognes. Reconnect asks attendees to be mindful and understanding of the target audience. We encourage those in attendance to feel free to move around if needed or even dance and sing along with the movie. Kids have been seen doing just that. Anxiety has had children afraid to even enter the building but with the slight adjustment, those same kids have been up dancing and having a great time. Families have come prepared in 2 cars in case of the need for a dramatic exit, as they are used to, but with a sigh of relief by the end of the film parents are smiling with amazement of how their child actually made it and even had fun.
Reconnect is excited to continue reaching out to more autism and special needs families. There are monthly sensory friendly films scheduled. These movies are open to all who have special needs and could benefit from a more sensory friendly opportunity. As we continue forward, we strive to make connections with various businesses and groups in the area so that we can offer the greatest opportunities for autism families to get out, be active, and most of all feel supported in all they do.
At this time Reconnect is primarily about providing outreach opportunities for individuals and families. There are no direct therapeutic services being offered or provided through Reconnect 4 Autism at this time. We hope to continue our growth and support to where this can become a possibility. For more direct therapy services, contact Region IV Mental Health about possible services. The outreach of Reconnect 4 Autism will continue it's goal of providing social activities and opportunities to families. The saying goes that "it takes a village to raise a child", we want to be a positive piece of the puzzle for autism families.
We promote involvement from the entire family. When families as a whole are involved, then safety can best be acheived for each individual participant. Having professionals be directly involved with the planning and caring out of activies also insures a safer environment. As employees of a professional mental health agency we have each had back ground checks and training for working with children and special need families. We each hold professional credentials and licenses which are connected to a set of ethical standards that we pledge to uphold.
We plan to host community trainings to where volunteers can gain knowledge needed to better assist our target audience. Trust is a huge reason more autism families are not more active in the community so we want to help change this.
Give us a call:
Brad Essary - Founder
Leigh Ann Stewart - Cofounder
Chris Vandiver - Business Partner