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'Automatic for Autism' raises awareness, money for BCBA Clinic

Kristen B. Morales

March 20, 2015

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A resource fair and movie screening in April will raise awareness of autism while celebrating the successful end to a fundraiser for an autism treatment clinic on the University of Georgia campus.

Automatic for Autism, a campaign launched last fall by four members of the Athens Area Chamber of Commerce's LEAD Athens class of 2015, will create an endowment fund for the UGA College of Education's Applied Behavior Analysis Clinic, which serves children and adults with autism. To celebrate the campaign's success, and to bring more awareness about autism to the larger community, the group is hosting a resource fair and film screening on April 1 at Ciné BarCafé in downtown Athens.

The resource fair begins at 4 p.m. in Ciné's lab and features information from healthcare providers, schools and autism specialists. The resource fair will be followed by the film "Temple Grandin" about an autistic woman who is one of the top scientists in the industry of livestock handling. The family-friendly event is free and open to the public, but donations are welcome and cans of "Automatic for Autism" coffee roasted by Jittery Joe's will be available for purchase. Donations to the campaign will be accepted through April 1 through the GeorgiaFunder website.

"The event really is an opportunity for the whole community to come together in support of this cause and truly begin a conversation in Athens about the impact of Autism in our community," said Houston Gaines, a LEAD Athens member and one of the organizers of the event. "We are really excited about our accomplishments, but we know there is so much more to be done, and that will require the whole community coming together for this important cause."

Gaines joined with LEAD Athens members Sloane Nichols, Sam Salamone and Shanna Sheets to create the Automatic for Autism fundraiser and event. LEAD Athens is an annual program hosted by the Athens Area Chamber of Commerce. The event is one day before World Autism Awareness Day, which is April 2.

The main push behind Automatic for Autism was to create an endowment fund to help needy families pay for the costs of treatment at the College of Education's Applied Behavior Analysis Clinic. The clinic, which is part of the college's Board-Certified Behavior Analysis certification program, uses applied behavior analysis to apply interventions and change behaviors.