Another action packed week for The Arc.
Tomorrow we host Barbara Doyle, MS, for a “Healthy Minds, Healthy Lives Seminar” in Alsip then it is back to the Capitol!
Wednesday we are expecting well over 300 advocates to attend the Going Home’s Annual Day in the Capitol. Advocates and The Arc will be calling upon the Governor and Legislators to support increased wages for Direct Support Professionals and closing antiquated state institutions. See you there! Registration begins at 8:30 and the Rally is set for 11:00 in the Capitol!
So sad to share this. Another important resource in Illinois gone!
“We’re going to flat out close”
By Debra Pressey
URBANA — The Autism Program at the University of Illinois is on its way to becoming another casualty of Illinois’ budget debacle.
A free community resource for families for 11 years, the program has managed to remain open since last July without a contract or state grant funding. But it’s about out of money, and plans are being made to shut it down June 30.
“We’re going to flat out close,” Director Linda Tortorelli said.
The Autism Program of Illinois, or TAP, was a network of centers left in limbo after the state budget impasse began last July. Its central office closed last September.
A $204,000 annual state grant is used to keep the UI-based program at 904 W. Nevada St., U, running, Tortorelli said. It got by on about half that much money this past year by piecing together some rainy day funds, donations and making cuts, she said. Among them: Tortorelli taking only half her salary and another staff member going without pay.
The local center is a resource for parents, professionals, students and anyone with autism, providing information, education, training and referral services, which hundreds of people take advantage of. Diagnosing doctors send kids with autism there, along with their parents for education, Tortorelli said, and teachers come looking for free classroom materials for their students with autism.
“Anybody can walk in off the street at any time, and we will help them,” she said.
One reason the center has been able to manage service volume has been with free student help. Each semester, about a dozen students majoring in such fields as education, human development and psychology together put in about 100 free hours, enabling the center to run five days a week plus Saturday mornings.
Lesley Lee, a 48-year-old Savoy mother of three, has found the center invaluable.
This past March, a doctor diagnosed one of her sons with autism and also told her he believed she was on the autism spectrum and her other two children were most likely at risk.
Lee said she had previously been diagnosed with and medicated for bipolar and borderline personality disorder, but this new information answered so many questions for her about issues in her life — a failed marriage, ongoing problems on the job at the UI Library, missed social cues and even about temporarily losing her children once for child abuse.
She sees now that autism has affected her parenting and her work.
“It’s like suddenly it explains everything I’ve been trying to understand,” she said.
Attention: SpringfieldA year’s worth of free service from the Autism Program at the UI:
- 600 people served in the resource room,
- plus 200 more served through intensive consultations.
- 30 community training sessions given.
- 1,000 classroom materials a year provided for teachers serving students with autism.
The Arc of Illinois
20901 S. LaGrange Rd. Suite 209
Frankfort, IL 60423