A local nonprofit has been recognized for their commitment to welcome and accommodate individuals with autism.

The Autism Alliance of Michigan has presented LACASA Center with an Alliance Seal of Approval. LACASA is the first interpersonal violence agency in the state to receive the alliance’s seal. The Livingston County-based organization provides critical services for victims of child abuse, domestic violence and sexual assault. The agency also spearheads community-wide education and awareness programs that help prevent abuse.

According to a release from LACASA, the presentation marked the culmination of a year-long process, including a series of trainings to ensure all LACASA staff learned how to assist, counsel and safeguard individuals with autism. To qualify for the Autism Alliance Seal of Approval, organizations undergo facility inspections to prepare their environments for individuals with autism. In addition, all employees and staff are required to complete specialized training workshops.

LACASA President & CEO Bobette Schrandt said they were honored to receive the designation and were, “deeply committed to meeting the needs of every individual who walks through our agency’s doors.” In addition to completing all seal of approval requirements, Schrandt said, members of LACASA’s staff developed a coloring book in story form to familiarize autistic individuals and their families with the agency’s facility design and program offerings.

AAoM President & CEO Colleen Allen said, “LACASA Center joins a respected group of Michigan organizations that strive to create safe and friendly environments for all children with autism and their families.”

Other historic, cultural and recreational venues across Michigan also have joined forces with AAoM to better welcome and accommodate families affected by autism, including the Detroit Zoo and the Grand Rapids Children’s Museum.
“We are proud to equip our members with a better understanding of this disorder,” said Allen. “Our goal is to teach organizations responsive and interactive approaches that help them to better communicate and socially connect with those who face the unique challenges that accompany autism.”

To ensure every family’s questions about autism can be answered, AAoM provides organizations with printed information cards about its free MiNavigator program, which is Michigan’s only centralized autism resource staffed by autism specialists. (JK)