by Betsy Natter
Imagine discovering that your child’s struggle to communicate clearly, engagement in repetitive behaviors or difficulty in adapting to social situations resulted in a diagnosis of autism. For a growing number of parents in the U.S. that reality is all too familiar. In fact, it is estimated by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that 1 in 68 children today are affected with autism or autism spectrum disorder (ASD).
In the past little help was available for families who often struggled on their own to get through even the basics of daily life. Thankfully, due to research advances and the development of quality educational programs and services, many with autism are able to get the help they need. One such organization is the AJ Foundation for Children with Autism, located in Wycombe, PA. The foundation’s mission is to improve the lives of individuals with autism and their families within their communities by supporting quality educational programs that are based on the principles of Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA).
The foundation was first begun in 1997 by Joanne Corless, Chairman and President, following her own search for answers for her son, AJ. Following years of private, in-home training under the ABA approach, Joanne worked with her local public school to provide this training for those in need within the larger community.
Soon growing demand led her to open the Comprehensive Learning Center (CLC) located in Southampton, PA, a private school that focuses solely on teaching children with autism to reach their highest potential, with regard to all areas of functioning. Students are guided to be self-sufficient with self-care, develop social and leisure skills, grow in academics, and learn skills to prepare them for successful home life, in addition to vocational preparation and community participation.
The cost to work with one student at CLC is over $100,000 annually and is only partially covered by local school district funding. Additional finances are provided by the AJ Foundation through its annual fund drive and fundraising events held throughout the year.
Ways to Support the AJ Foundation and CLC
If you are interested in supporting the work of the AJ Foundation, there are several ways to get involved. December marks the organization’s Annual Drive Campaign and direct donations can be made online on their fundraising page. January will bring the Texas Hold’em Tournament, followed by other fundraising events such as a golf outing and an annual bike ride. Throughout the year, donations can be made every time you make online purchases through Amazon Smile (www.smile.amazon.com) and Good Search (www.goodsearch.com). Be sure to select the AJ Foundation as your charity of choice for donations.
To learn more about the AD Foundation visit their website at http://www.ajfoundation.org.