By Liza Jones
As GMSS’ AAC (Augmentative and Alternative Communication) Specialist, I am constantly navigating monetary barriers that prevent those we serve from accessing the assistive technology, supports, and services they need. Things can be so very expensive these days! Throughout the process of navigating these barriers, I decided I needed to seek alternative ways in which GMSS can ensure those we serve are getting the individualized supports they need and deserve. I remembered reading about an organization called Autism Speaks, which funds programs locally and across the country that provide those on the autism spectrum with social and educational experiences.
To my surprise, when I researched this option, I found the grant cycle was open and accepting applications. I drafted my grant request and titled it “Bridging the Gap” because, ideally, the money would be used to bridge the gap in resources, supports, and services available for adults with autism. More specifically, the money would bridge the gap in the areas of sensory and communication needs. The maximum that can be requested through Autism Speaks is $5,000.00. With that in mind, I requested $4,300.00 and began an anxious wait. A month or so later, I was scrolling through my Monday morning emails and came to one from Autism Speaks. I opened it and was pleasantly surprised to find my grant request had been accepted!!
So, what does this mean for GMSS??
It means that we now have a pot of money ($4,300.00) to use for the communication and/ or sensory-based needs of those we serve on the autism spectrum. I have a few different ideas for how to best use the funds. Some of these ideas involve providing individualized sensory and/ or communication supports. Some are bigger and encompass options for how GMSS can strategically use the funds to more consistently meet the sensory needs of those we serve into the future. As we decide how best to use this grant money, I can assure you that the money will be well spent and will increase the quality of life of individuals we serve here at GMSS. At the end of the day, THAT is a BIG win in my book!