Welcome to our social impact series, called “Five Questions.” On the first day of every month, we will share five questions with a community organization serving children and youth in Jackson County. We hope to inspire you, enlighten you, and connect you with community organizations should you ever need assistance. By sharing this with you, we hope that together we can be inspired to take action to improve our communities!

April is Autism Awareness Month, and I am honored to feature the Jackson Autism Support Network (J.A.S.N.) for this month’s Five Questions edition. Statistics show that one in fifty-four American children has been identified with autism spectrum disorder, and chances are you know and love someone with autism. Autism Awareness Month aims to promote and celebrate acceptance for autism, so please read through this post, visit the J.A.S.N. website, and learn some ways you can support this awesome organization and the individuals and families they work to support!

Five Questions with Jackson Autism Support Network
1. What is the Jackson Autism Support Network, and what is the mission of your organization?
Jackson Autism Support Network is a non-profit organization whose mission is to educate the community and support families affected by autism. 

2. How did the Jackson Autism Support Network get its start, and how long have you been active in the community?
J.A.S.N. got its start in 2004 but became a non-profit 501c in 2007. It was started by a group of parents looking to help their children find a place in the community. Then in 2015 J.A.S.N. started the Around The Park For Autism 5k run/walk, which really was a turning point for bringing more community members together and sharing our mission on a larger scale. 

3. What services do you provide to families in the community?
Before the pandemic, we hosted the annual Light it Up Blue event, Around the Park for Autism 5k run/walk, monthly support meetings for parents, and offered yearly scholarships to those who applied and met the requirements. We planned quarterly outings for our families and kiddos to encourage social skill building in a friendly safe environment, along with hosting holiday parties. We also had a separate social group for young adults who had autism for them to come and socialize monthly in a safe friendly environment. We provided resources to families looking for help with therapies or getting a diagnosis. Additionally, we provided IEP support for parents who wished to have an advocate there with them. 

We are run entirely on donations and volunteer board members. We had to give up our building during the pandemic and we did some restructuring on what we would offer moving forward.

This year we are proud to announce that many of our offerings are returning!

  • Light It Up Blue (our autism awareness kickoff) is back! This event will be on April 1, 2022, and more details can be found on our website
  • We will be hosting the annual Around the Park for Autism 5k run/walk on May 14, 2022
  • Our young adult group is starting to meet monthly again. 
  • We will also be doing our quarterly skill-building social outings for families with younger kiddos. 
  • We are going automated with our resources packet for families just starting on the journey. 
  • We are also still offering IEP support and our yearly scholarship program (which is still being restructured). 

4. Do you have to be a member to participate in the J.A.S.N. services, and if so, how do you join?
Yes, you need to be a member to participate in our support offerings. Membership is free and is available on our website.

5. You provide such crucial support for families affected by autism. In turn, how can the community provide support to you?
The community can support the Jackson Autism Support Network by attending our Light it Up Blue event on April 1, 2022, and our Around the Park for Autism 5k walk/run this May. Also, if you are out in the community, remember to be kind to everyone you encounter. 

Bonus Question: What is your favorite kid-friendly place in Jackson County?
Our favorite kid-friendly place in Jackson would be the Dahlem Center. They have a natural playscape, and the atmosphere is calming. The bridge by the small creek was recently redone, and it is a go-to for us! 

For more information on the Jackson Autism Support Network, please visit their website at:
https://jasn-mi.org/

Or on Facebook at:
https://www.facebook.com/JASNmi

Five Questions with Jackson Autism Support Network

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