Letter from Past President

On this day … Thankful Tuesday there is much to be shared about the Autism Society of Alaska and the time I have served as the President of the Board of Directors.

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Thankful! On this day … Thankful Tuesday there is much to be shared about the Autism Society of Alaska and the time I have served as the President of the Board of Directors. There are two tenses of the word … past and present that are most commonly contemplated when defining thankful. For myself … I first am Thankful that ASA has a past and a vibrant future. I am thankful for those who served before me … for those who paved the way … for those like the founder Heidi Haas. She had a vision and a plan and set it in motion. When I first volunteered for ASA … I was a newer parent with a new diagnosis and was so thankful for a place of common knowledge and non-judgement, where my family and myself could join and not be so different … but surrounded by others who understood and knew much of the same.

As I gained my footing and momentum, I eventually had the opportunity to serve as the President. In my time in this position I am beyond thankful for the opportunities to host the first two Autism Society of Alaska conferences with the likes of Temple Grandin and Michelle Garcia Winner! To hear what they shared alongside other local experts in our State was thrilling. Launching Community Enrichments, where we can offer educational, social and sensory sensitive events like my favorite, Sensory Santa, extended the vibe set by the conferences. I’m thankful for the networking and sharing of ideas these types of settings make possible. I’ve so appreciated the partnerships concerning safety with the State Troopers through Project Life Saver and CTC with classroom time for training with the cadets.

There are so many memories and moments that I will carry with me for some time. With that … I am thankful for the opportunity to move into the Past President position. I can be a part of the past and that’s only possible because of those who have been willing to carry the torch towards the future. Being part of this amazing non-profit organization has been a team effort. I’ve worked alongside many brilliant individuals with amazing skills and heart. Now I can support them and smile as they successfully navigate what’s next. What programs will they make flourish, what impacts will they have in the lives of those we serve and our communities.

I am so excited to announce that ASA’s new Board of Director’s President is Leah Kovall. Her enthusiasm and positive outlook and vision will be so effective in her leading. Moving into the Vice President position is Briana Brooks. Joining us as the new treasurer is Bonita Brees. Denys Collins will continue as our secretary and Alana Frazier and Joshua Kamerick have also volunteered more of their time, energy and resources to the ASA Board. Paige Talvi has accepted our position of Honorary Board member which we are so pleased to share. Every one of these individuals have made it possible for our organization to not only exists, but thrive. I am so grateful and thankful for their willingness, eagerness, thoughtfulness and compassion in their service as well as the time they commit to their positions. All of those characteristics are why they are champions of advocacy, education, awareness, acceptance and change for so many … not only locally but across our great State!

I am so thankful to all of our organization’s supporters and volunteers. All of your time, skills, and financial gifts have allowed us to do what we do. Thank you for both your past and future generosity! When there are so many amazing non-profits doing so many great things, it’s humbling to receive all we do. Our deep gratitude in recognizing this makes us proud to let you know that every dollar stays in Alaska and every dollar matters and is helpful. As we wrap up 2018, I am excited to see what 2019 holds for the Autism Society of Alaska. Thankful!

Brandy Raby, Past Autism Society of Alaska Board of Director’s President

Brandy Raby and her family at 10th Annul Alaska 5k for Autism

If you’d like to donate your time, email autism907@gmail.com

If you’d like to donate to our organization, visit asagoldenheart.org/donate

2018 Rewind

What Did ASA Do in 2018?

January

Kicked off the new year by welcoming the Autism Society of America President and CEO,Scott Badesch to Alaska. He ran our Vision Forward Strategic Planning Session and helped map out goals for the next two years.

Announced Regal Cinemas would be continuing My Way Matinee, Sensory Friendly Films

February

Selected as a non-profit for  McHenry Ball tournament at North Pole Middle school and funds were raised on our behalf from the students’ North Pole Champions for Charity bingo, dinner, and auction.

Received Golden Heart Meeting Ambassador Award from Explore Fairbanks Alaska. Our 2nd Autism Conference brought the community of Fairbanks over $25,000 from direct attendee spending.

Began a logo contest to celebrate our 10th Annual Alaska 5k for Autism

March

Hands-on workshop on strengthening communication between them and their adolescent or teen presented by Matthew Sena and Kylie Gore-Hall with Hope Counseling

Partnered with Fly Trampoline for a sensory friendly event

April

Annual Human Ribbon at UAF

Partnered with 2018 Alaska LEND Fellows for a Parent Cafe Tea Time Workshop on Strengthening and Supporting Families

Chosen as Papa John’s Charity of the Month

KTVF covered our sensory friendly events and partnerships

Board members attended Fairbanks Children Museum’s Sensory Friendly Day

May

Partnered with Stone Soup Cafe for a Cooking Life Skills Course for adults with autism

June

10th Annual Alaska 5k for Autism

Benefited from the Fairbanks Visitor Industry Walk for Charity

July

Sponsored one camper to attend Camp Yes in the Woods

Said goodbye to our first hired Executive Director of 4 years

Joined FRA for Disability Awareness at Golden Days Parade

August

Had a booth at the Tanana Valley State Fair

September

Presented to the CTC Law Enforcement Academy on safety with suggestions for positive and effective interactions with those who experience autism and their support systems

October

Partnered with Arctic Harvest for our first ever Sensory Friendly Fall Event

November

We welcomed in our new board president, Leah Kovall

New  treasurer welcomed to the board, Bonita Brees

December

We will host our 5th Annual Sensory Santa event sponsored by Greer Tank and Welding

We can’t wait to share with you our plans for 2019! If you’d like to donate your time, email autism907@gmail.com

If you’d like to donate to our organization, visit asagoldenheart.org/donate

Sensory Friendly Fall

Written by: Denys Collins

On Saturday, October 6th, the Autism Society of Alaska partnered with Arctic Harvest and held their first Fall event. Individuals that experience autism and their families were given an opportunity to enjoy common autumn activities in a sensory friendly and welcoming environment at Arctic Harvest.DSC00060

On an unusually warm day for October in Alaska, families gathered together at Davies farm. While there, guests were greeted by goats. Then, they were able to go on hay rides, have their faces painted by the amazing Ms. Sally, and pick pumpkins. Some children chose to run through the field while others watched It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown.  Afterwards, they were able to enjoy treats or food around the fire.

Because the event was before open hours at Arctic Harvest, everyone had a chance to enjoy themselves without the usual chaos, excitement, and crowds that often accompany such festivities. Many individuals that experience autism process sensory information such as sounds or smells in a different manner than those that are neurotypical. Just as autism is a spectrum so are sensory needs. With the help of community partnerships, accommodations can be implemented to make events and activities accessible to individuals that experience autism or have sensory processing disorder.

The Autism Society of Alaska would like to thank their board members, volunteers, Arctic Harvest, and all the families that attended for helping make their first fall event a success.

If you would like information on how to make your business, event, or activity more sensory friendly, please reach out the Autism Society of Alaska at autism907@gmail.com. To stay up to date on all of our events, follow us on Facebook or sign up for our newsletter.

Sensory Friendly Jump Time

On March 31, 2018 the Autism Society of Alaska partnered with FLY Trampoline Park in Fairbanks to provide a sensory friendly jump time. The event was full of smiles, laughter, and of course jumping. Parents made sure not to let the children have all of the fun.

FLY opened an hour early to accommodate the sensory needs of the jumpers. The number of attendees was kept low, and the music was turned off. The staff went above and beyond. They were helpful, friendly, and played too. There was even a surprise visitor that showed up… The Easter Bunny! It is amazing what can happen when organizations partner and set up accommodations.

If you’d like to help fund programs such as this, register and donate to our 10th Annual Alaska 5k for Autism at asagoldenheart.org. We need YOUR help!

This presentation was brought by the Autism Society of Alaska’s Community Enrichment program. This program was created to solve some of the community’s most common requests, access to information about networking with other families and leisure activities for individuals with autism. The Autism Society of Alaska (A.S.A) partners with local businesses to provide leisure opportunities to those who experience autism, while also providing networking, socializing, and referral services to the whole family. A.S.A. also hosts community presentations and workshops on a range of topics affecting individuals with autism.

Want to learn more about the Autism Society of Alaska Community Enrichment Program? Visit A.S.A’s website to see more events to come.