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The History of ASPIES (a division of ASPIES Greater Akron, Inc.)

  • For years an informal support group existed in Montrose, Ohio, meeting monthly to address the issues surrounding school aged children diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome. Sadly, the group disbanded in 2005. With a list of about 25 email addresses from that group and knowing that the need was great, "ASPIES Greater Akron" was organized and held its first meeting at Akron Children's Hospital in November 2005. We continued in the tradition of an informal support group helping parents deal with issues surrounding their children's diagnosis of Asperger Syndrome, High-Functioning Autism and PDD-NOS holding meetings, sending out pertinent information via email, and offering phone support.
  • From our first meeting we progressed to holding meetings every other month in 2006. We partnered with another local autism group which in 2006 quit holding support group meetings altogether. So, in 2007 we increased our meetings to monthly and added our now well known quarterly "Meet & Greets" as well as our annual Christmas party.
  • In 2008, we increased our services again to include collaboration with other agencies and activities such as sensory integrated movies. Responding to the plea of parents of adult children on the spectrum, we started an adult support group for those 18 and older on the spectrum in May 2008. As we started getting to know them and understand their needs, it was evident that due to the lack of public awareness about Autism Spectrum Disorders, this population had missed out on so many of the therapies now known to be beneficial to those on the spectrum. Initially, we were teaching attendees what their diagnosis meant to them in every day living. In 2009, we offered our adults what became known as the "Empowering You" series wherein outside speakers would present on key issues facing adults (housing, employment, self-advocacy and such). With the change in the population attending the end of that year, we soon found that socialization was much needed and our adult group became more of a social group offering attendees a place to "fit in". Our parent group continued to grow.
  • Our listserv continued to grow over the years to the now 1,000-plus recipients (including parents, adults on the spectrum, other agencies, teachers and other professionals) to whom we send out information pertaining to trainings and events within an hour of Akron, articles pertaining to topics of interest, resources, and newsworthy items. We help individuals in Summit, Portage, Stark, Wayne, Medina, and parts of Cuyahoga counties.
  • As the needs of families in our community increased, we realized we needed to focus our energy specifically on those efforts that would best serve our families. We filed with the State of Ohio in May 2010 to become our own non-profit entity and announced our restructuring of the organization.
  • In October 2010, we started a parent support group in the Canton, OH, area. Throughout 2011 and to date we have continued to offer monthly meetings, activities and support through all three groups. Our vision continues for our community with many goals to further expand our current services some as are described in our Vision Statement. (Note that this past year we were even able to offer services to individuals from Puerto Rico and Lebanon visiting our area.)
    In July 2015 we obtained our 501(c)(3) status making donations to ASPIES tax deductible.  As we go forward, we will pursue grant funding as well in order to expand our services even more.
  • Updated 05-2016