Learning aid created by a special education teacher using supplies and resources provided by KNOWAutism.
KNOWAutism was founded in 2013 with the goal of helping families of children with autism better navigate the process of diagnosis, treatment, intervention, and education. For the first few years, the organization was run entirely by volunteer efforts led by the founder, Tammy Tran Nguyen, along with board members, friends, and supporters. Their efforts were initially focused on creating an online library of resources, connecting families with support and services, and raising awareness about autism, especially in communities with language barriers. These early efforts included hosting educational seminars on autism for social workers, therapists, and counselors at the Asian American Family Services center and providing financial support for projects like the Light and Salt Special Needs Center at the Chinese Community Center.
Artwork by Luke Bohreer, a talented teenaged artist who has autism. Luke donated the piece for auction at our 2016 Gala, and it now hangs at a restaurant in Midtown.
KNOWAutism also stepped up to serve the Houston community in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey. With the help and generosity of Craig Butler at Northside Bananas, we delivered 25,000 bananas to the George R. Brown Convention Center shelter, which was hosting about 10,000 people at that time. We also donated 5,000 individually packaged utensil sets to GRB and 4,360 bottles of water to Lindale Church for distribution to hard hit areas around Houston. These efforts inspired our friends at Quan-Coaster Wholesale to donate an additional 5,000 bottles of water for relief efforts. KA’s disaster assistance efforts then shifted to serving individual special needs families with everything from transitional housing to sensory comfort items to gift cards for groceries and necessities. We also partnered with special education teachers whose homes and/or classrooms were damaged by the storm to help them replace needed supplies for their public school students. With a grant from the Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund, KNOWAutism was able to provide additional financial assistance for therapeutic treatments and care related to autism for families impacted by the disaster.
KNOWAutism is adapting to meet the evolving needs of the autism community, as well as the Houston community as a whole. When we see an opportunity to serve our city, we use our experience, connections, skills, and resources to meet the needs we can. We are committed to continuing to serve the ASD community today, tomorrow, and every day to come. Children with autism will continue to need therapeutic services, intervention, special education, understanding, and acceptance. Their families will continue to need support, encouragement, and access to resources. That is why KNOWAutism is here. As always, we are in this journey together.
In the past 4 years, KNOWAutism has funded numerous projects in the community, both large and small. Early on, KNOWAutism recognized the need for a specialized center in Houston that could provide comprehensive assessments, diagnosis, and early intervention for children with autism. To meet this need, the Foundation provided funding to help launch The Stewart Center at The Westview School in 2013. A few years later, KA provided a small grant to Centro De Autismo Cozumel in Mexico for their autism diagnostic program. In partnership with the Pasadena Rotary Foundation, the grant covered diagnostic testing for 400 children at the center.
Volunteers help unload 250 cases of donated bananas for the shelter at GRB in the immediate aftermath of Hurricane Harvey.
As the organization became more established, we shifted our focus to providing direct financial assistance to families and supporting community efforts to serve special needs children. As of March 2018, KNOWAutism has provided direct financial assistance to dozens of families for diagnostic testing, therapeutic treatments, special interest programs, and disaster relief.
In the past three years, KNOWAutism has also created community partnerships that serve autistic children and their families. The largest of these partnerships is with TUTS/The River, through which we helped create the Community Arts Residencies, which has brought inclusive fine arts education into elementary school campuses. This program has served hundreds of students so far in Houston ISD, and we look forward to expanding this program further in 2018.
Our newest partnership is with the Houston Ballet to expand their Adapted Dance Off-Site program to an additional eight series, which will serve an additional 130 students. This program pairs trained staff with Houston-area schools, hospitals, and other organizations to provide dance classes tailored to the specific needs of the students, with a particular focus on neurological and/or physical challenges.