April is Autism Awareness Month. With help from Swan Consulting Inc., a Clovis-based applied behavioral analysis therapy provider for children with autism, Clovis Roundup would like to recognize individuals and organizations around the valley that are currently working to make a difference in the lives of families and children with autism.
Fresno Autism Net
Fresno Autism Net –– also known as F.A.N. –– has a mission that states, “It is our mission to help make the complex lives of families with [autism spectrum disorder] a little easier by providing an avenue of supportive services including social support, emotional and spiritual consultation, and assistant in finding resources for these families.” A nonprofit organization, F.A.N. was founded by Stephanie Ramirez, the mother of an autistic child.
“GRAND” stands for Growing Resources for Autism and Neurodevelopmental Disorders, and this organization functions as a nonprofit. GRAND’s mission states, “It is our mission to empower individuals with ASD and [neurodevelopmental disorders] by providing resources, offering support, and promoting inclusion throughout the community.”
Founded by Alissa and Nadar Malakan, GRAND provides funding to areas that include: scholarships for education; increasing access to special education resources; support groups; promotion of collaborative care; and participation in the San Joaquin Valley Neurodevelopmental Collaborative.
Jodie Howard, Fresno’s first homegrown educational lawyer
According to Swan Consulting Inc., one of the reasons Howard made the decision to attend San Joaquin College of Law was due to the fact that there were no educational law attorneys in the Fresno area. Specifically, when she won a case that favored more services for her son (who is autistic), she defended herself due to the lack of educational law attorneys.
Howard’s journey began 15 years ago when her 2-year-old son started showing signs of ASD. She was able to find ABA therapy for early intervention, and eventually found a way to navigate the school system for her son.
Howard graduates from SJCL next month with high honors, and she will be giving the valedictorian address at the graduation ceremony. She has also published a book that helps guide parents through the special education law process. According to Swan Consulting, her next steps will be opening a clinic in 2020 in conjunction with SJCL where parents can get free help in advocating for their children. Howard has received a generous donation from GRAND to help kick start her new clinic.