Allison Eitreim started the Regional Autism Networking Group earlier this year to empower families and professionals working with children with autism. Long-term, Eitreim envisions creating a community where individuals with autism are included, accepted and valued.

Regional Autism Support Group open to local, parents, interested individuals

Allison Eitreim’s passion for teaching is extending beyond the school’s walls.

As autism specialist at Worthington Public Schools, Eitreim started the Regional Autism Networking Group late last year and now the group regularly draws 30 or more people to its quarterly meetings.

“If we stop at our school doors, we are missing the boat,” the 1992 Luverne High School graduate said.

Autism Spectrum Disorder affects one in 68 children in the United States. Cause of the mental disability is unknown with a wide range of effects.

Eitreim said children and adults with ASD have difficulty with social interaction, communication and repetitive patterns of behavior. Varying degrees of severity result in some people with ASD gifted while others need significant levels of support to ensure their health and well-being.

Educators recognize that several treatments are available with no singular effective treatment.

“Teachers are so overwhelmed by paperwork that they don’t have time to research strategies,” Eitreim said.

As organizer of the support group, Eitreim regularly shares her insights of effectively working with ASD children with parents and other early childhood groups.

She said she has researched various teaching techniques and shares several at the regional meetings.

Her group’s next meeting is at 6:30 p.m. Monday, Sept. 11, at Worthington High Schoo1, 1211 Clary St.

While the support group focuses on parents, Eitreim welcomes co-workers, grandparents, friends and others with questions on raising and working with ASD children and adults to become productive members of the group.

“I feel we are missing out on a whole group of people if we don’t empower more of us in the world to socialize with people with autism,” she said. “I’ve had so many parents in tears because they are on such an island.”

Along with parent support meetings, Eitreim has also developed a quarterly newsletter detailing lessons and resources discussed during the two-hour regional meetings.

Contact Eitreim at 507-376-6121 ext. 3744 or allison.eitreim@isd518.net

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