COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - Over twenty community groups, including clinics, non-profits, and state agencies, gathered inside the Pop Austin Recreation Center in Columbus to help community members on the autism spectrum by giving their families the information they need to help them lead healthy lives.
"And it's so important for the families to get an opportunity to find out what's available in the area, and see if they think it will help their child," said Diane Pope, President of the Autism Hope Center.
Pope has helped galvanize groups of passionate professionals and volunteers, now participating in the 5th annual Autism Awareness Resource Fair.
Having the information and access to resources, Pope says, is crucial for parents and family members.
"With almost 3,000 people with autism in the Chattahoochee Valley, there's not enough services to go around, so you have to kind of, do a better job than usual to find them," said Pope.
The fair not only provided the kids an opportunity to meet and play with new friends, it allowed professional advocates to make what they feel are important connections that may help these children in the future.
"Some of this can't be taught. You have to individualize with people, be able to use empathy in different situations," said Miranda Hardy, manager of Rivertown Counseling. "It's definitely satisfying at the end of the day to know that we're helping people, so I can go home and feel good about what I've done for the day."
Autism advocates also say the effort to fund groups that help people with autism is important, as the number of those diagnosed grows yearly.