The Lighthouse Autism Center is now open in Plymouth. Located at 1550 Pidco Drive, the center officially opened on August 18, one year after the community call-out meeting in 2014 that led to its development. It’s always been our mission to bring quality ABA services to those that need them. We’ve now done that in Plymouth with the help of the entire community. Currently, the center assists eight families in the area, and will eventually serve eighteen families. We look forward to continuing our work in Plymouth so we can keep bringing services and assistance to families with autism. The credit for the incredible amount of work that made the new center possible goes to many dedicated people. They include our founders, Gregg and Sandy Maggioli, the entire Lighthouse Autism Center staff, and most importantly, our friends and partners in Plymouth. Without the support of local parents, families, teachers, advocates, and organizations, opening the center would not have been possible. We would like to especially thank Penny Hines, the Collins Family, ARMC, JESSE, and Crossroads Church. Your support and generosity were central to making the Plymouth Lighthouse Autism Center possible. Our staff invites parents and families interested in learning more about Lighthouse and ABA services to come in for a visit. We welcome the opportunity to show how we can make a positive difference in your lives.
A health insurance plan covering ABA services is necessary for any family who has a child with autism. For those that may not currently have health insurance, now is the time to enroll. The Affordable Care Act (ACA) created a new way for families to enroll in insurance, it’s called open enrollment. This is a yearly period when individuals
can enroll in a plan through the Health Insurance Marketplace. To obtain insurance coverage for 2016, you must purchase a policy between November 1, 2015 and January 31, 2016. While you may purchase a policy anytime during this period, the policy will not go into effect until January 1, 2016. It’s important to note that ACA plans are fully funded and are mandated to include coverage of autism services. This does not affect the cost of the plan in any way.
“We cannot stress enough how important open enrollment is. We encourage all families to purchase a policy if they are able to as open enrollment only comes once a year. If you choose not to enroll now and find you need insurance later, you will have to wait until the next open enrollment period before being able to purchase a policy. For a child with autism, that could mean valuable time without much needed ABA services,” says co-founder of Lighthouse Autism Center, Sandy Maggioli. The Insurance Department at Lighthouse Autism Center has been working very hard researching which policies will be available and will most benefit families with autism. They found several affordable policies with monthly premiums lower than what the average parent pays for a month of childcare. To learn more or inquire about purchasing a policy, you can contact Lighthouse Insurance Coordinator, Michele Rohyan, at 574-387-4313. When asked how Lighthouse can help families, Sandy Maggioli said, “We’ll help families find a policy that is right for them and even help them apply for grants to cover their out-of-pocket expenses. It is our goal to help families in any way we can, starting with the insurance process.”
In the three years Aidan has spent at Lighthouse he has grown from a child who had difficulty with his diet, communicating, and academic work, to a student transitioning back to school who now dreams of a career as a zookeeper! “We believe he would make an excellent one, and we would like him to have the same opportunities to fulfill this dream as any other child,” said his mom, Michelle. “We know Aidan is a very intelligent boy, and Lighthouse Autism Center has been able to let him show it to the world!” Prior to transitioning back to school, Aidan mastered first, second, and third grade workbooks, and started working on a fourth grade level that includes reading/writing, math, social studies, and science. Aidan has accomplishments in several other areas in addition to his academic ones. These include:
Communication: Aidan is more confident and open about his thoughts and feelings, and is now able to hold a conversation with family and friends.
Diet: At first, Aidan would only eat taco meat for lunch and dinner. He now eats 23 other food items regularly and also attempts to try new foods.
Counting: Once unable to count by multiples, he’s now proficient at addition with borrowing, subtraction with carrying, two-digit multiplication, and long division. Aidan’s parents are both very proud he’s
graduating and able to attend traditional school full-time.
“We are so thankful for Aidan’s Program Managers, Therapists, and the Lighthouse staff,” said Michelle. “You have been a big part of our lives for almost three years and we will never forget the things you have done for our Aidan. Thank you so much for giving Aidan your time, patience, love, and support.”
Animals and Kids with Autism – The Unique
Relationship That Can Develop Between the Two
Published by Indy’s Child
By Maggie Loiselle
Helping kids with autism improve their social interaction can be a constant challenge. Being around their peers can produce higher physiological stress levels than those in typically developing children. Researchers have long known that interacting with animals has a positive effect on those with autism, helping to lower their stress levels and develop better social skills. Recently, a Purdue University study tracked the physiological stress in two groups of children as they read silently, read aloud to peers, played with toys, and then played with guinea pigs. The study found higher stress levels in the kids with autism – except when they played with the animals. According to the study, children with autism showed an increase in social interaction when they had a positive source to interact with, such as an animal. The study stressed that not every child responds to animals in a positive way. But, for those who do, the results are encouraging. Depending on the child and the family situation, adopting a pet can be beneficial. So can taking the child to a zoo or to a friend who owns a pet. An additional study is now underway to determine whether an animal’s species affects how children with autism respond.
In our last issue, we told you about starting the Lighthouse Families First Foundation (LHFFF). This is a nonprofit organization aimed at helping families with all ranges of disabilities and needs. And even though the LHFFF is a new venture for us, it’s already making a positive impact in the lives of families with autism.
In April, we held our first Dinner & Dance fundraiser at the Windsor Park Conference Center. The event was a huge success and raised over $30,000 that is directly benefitting special needs families. For example, Brielle, four, and Zach, five, are two very different children. Brielle loves Veggie Tales and jumping on the trampoline, while Zach likes riding bikes and Legos. Both do have one important thing in common though: they are both nonverbal. Through grants made by the LHFFF, we purchased iPads and language software to help both kids learn how to communicate their wants and needs.
We hope to continue to help local children and families in any way that we can. The foundation is currently accepting grant applications from anyone, including parents of current students. All
applications will be considered and grants will be made based on each family’s needs, with no limit on grant amount at this time. If you or someone you know could benefit from a grant, or want more information, please contact us at 574-387-4313 or email@example.com.
For anyone wanting to make a donation to the LHFFF, you can either mail a check to the Lighthouse Families First Foundation at 3730 Edison Lakes Parkway, Mishawaka, IN 46545 or donate online
This is only the beginning for the Foundation. With your charitable kindness, we can continue making a substantial difference in the life of a special needs child or adult and their family. Thank you!
This past weekend, Lighthouse Autism Center hosted a Parent’s Appreciation Day at both of our Mishawaka locations as well as our Plymouth location. Parent’s were invited to bring their children to one of these locations for a free afternoon of child care. This is one of the many ways Lighthouse tries to give back to our families. A free afternoon of child care gives parents the opportunity to go out on a date, shopping, or simply relax at home without having to worry about their kids. We know how hard our LAC families work and we were happy to give back to them in this way. Lighthouse employees volunteered their Saturday afternoon to come into the centers and take care of the kiddos while their parents enjoyed the afternoon off. We would like to give a special thanks to all of those who volunteered their time – this means a great deal to our families and is something we plan on doing again in the future!
On Friday, October 30th, we celebrated Halloween at each of our centers. Kids had the opportunity to do crafts, dance, play games, eat some Halloween goodies and even go trick or treating around the building. We had everyone from Jake from State Farm, to princesses, Batman and Woody too. Parents were welcome to join the fun as well. We truly enjoy celebrating these holidays with our kiddos at all of our locations and look forward to celebrating Thanksgiving later this month!