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Empowering Autism through community support

Beauregard Daily News - 8/13/2018

Aug. 11--They meet on the first Wednesday of every month at 6 p.m. at Barksdale Federal Credit Union in DeRidder.

Wainwright is a retired U.S. Army soldier who raises his son Tristan, who is on the autism spectrum.

He emphasizes at the meetings that autism is not a "disease", rather it is just a different state of being.

Jeff uses his personal experience with Tristan, and his past work with the Autism Society to advocate for better public awareness about autism.

His son Tristan is a high school student and has a passion for acting, writing and making movies.

Tristan recently attended film camp and is currently developing a film of his own. Tristan's personal motto is "#AutismCan."

Jeff and Tristan use their experiences to relate to others who meet with them.

The group also takes part in many activities. Last month, they had their Sunday Fun Day, which was a huge success for both the children and the parents.

Jeff explained that having the children and families come out and socialize with each other was mutually beneficial.

"What happened is our children and our families got out of their comfort zones and socialized with people who understand, it's something we tend to do far too little of. Socialization no matter how hard it is for our children is needed, especially with other amazing autistics like themselves. The ideas that come out of their minds when they are put together and included as a group amaze me."

Jeff explained that sometimes raising a child with autism can sometimes make parents feel like they are alone.

He said "parents who have children who are autistic can often isolate themselves. Sadly, their family members and friends don't always understand what autism is."

The group meets discusses their challenges, goals, and personal experiences. The parents and caregivers rally together forming a bond of support.

At the Meetings Jeff talks about things such as how to help children with autism understand what it means, how to form an education plan with their child's school, how to communicate with their child, and how to help their child communicate with others.

One of the goals of the group that Wainwright has is to reach out to the community and to educate the public about autism.

He describes autism as a "evolution of being" noting the incredible skills and abilities that members of the autistic communities possess.

"Instead of looking at what you feel autism has taken away from your child try looking at what it has given them and empower them with ways it can be used to help themselves and others."

Those interested in the group can contact Jeff Wainwright at 337-396-7014 or Empowering Autism on Facebook.


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