Information & Resources

Family Advocacy and Parent Education Program

The Howard County Autism Society (HCAS) has been awarded a Community Service Partnership (CSP) grant by the Howard County Department of Community Resources and Services to provide special education advocacy and familial support for students with special education needs. Key services include one-to-one assistance and information on special education issues; one-to-one assistance on special education law and how it applies to personal circumstances; workshops and seminars on special education topics of interest: and a web-based special education news center.  Efforts through this grant have been utilized to expand our support into underserved populations including those with limited English proficiency (through translation of material into Spanish, Korean and Chinese (underway) and those with personal and home challenges through the contracting of a social worker to provide additional resources and advocacy. For more information, contact HCAS at 410-290-3466 or info@howard-autism.org.

Monthly Speaker Series

Offers speakers on a variety of topics of interest to the autism community – both experts as well as parents and individuals with ASD.  Recent topics have included Housing for the Disability Community, Overview of the IEP Process, Adolescence and Autism, Cannabis and Autism, Mental Health and Autism, Extended School Year, an Annual Meeting with the HCPSS Department of Special Education, Use of Assistive Technology, Maryland ABLE Fund, Financial Planning for Special Needs Families and others.  Offered most months.  Check our calendar at www.howard-autism.org for upcoming speakers.

Special Education Advocacy

HCAS is available to answer questions, offer support, and provide information and guidance related to special education and school system resources, including Individualized Education Program (IEP) and 504-related services.  Families can email info@howard-autism.org or call 410-290-3466.  Appointments can be made by request.  After the initial phone in-take through HCAS, if deemed appropriate and necessary, HCAS may direct families to a special education attorney or advocate; HCAS will subsidize 45 minutes of consultative services.  HCAS has contracted with Disability Rights Maryland (DRM), formerly Maryland Disability Law Center, to provide families with specialized guidance pertaining to special education law.  The goal is to educate families on how special education and disability law may apply to their unique situation.

Social Groups

  • Adult Social Group: Designed for independent adults with autism ages 23+, this group meets weekly for gatherings both at HCAS and out in the community.  For more information, please email ekmyers@gmail.com.
  • Monday FUNDAY: Perfect for older teens/young adults with ASD who need support to participate. Sessions meet fall and spring and are led by Occupational Therapy graduate students from Towson University.  For more information, email info@howard-autism.org.
  • Women’s Social Group: New! Designed for independent older teen and adult women.  This group meets monthly both at HCAS and out in the community.  For more information, please email info@howard-autism.org

Social Opportunities

Throughout the year, the Howard County Autism Society hosts several social gatherings for its members and families. Whether winter (indoor) or summer (outdoor) Pool Parties, Picnic, Annual Meeting & Potluck Dinner, Sensory Friendly Movies at AMC Theatre Columbia, BINGO, family trips, sibling events or any other of our activities, we encourage families to come out and join the fun. There are many families with similar stories and experiences to share. Be part of an exciting, welcoming, and understanding community! Check our calendar at www.howard-autism.org for upcoming speakers.

Bowling League

Mt. Airy Lanes welcomes individuals with special needs and their families to its Sunday morning bowling league – Mt. Airy Strikers! Bowl 12 weeks in the spring and/or fall. $3/week includes one game of bowling and shoe rental. To learn more about the league, please email Sundaystrikersbowling@gmail.com .

FitnessFirst

Join us for these family-friendly events that offer gym activities, swimming, plus pizza and drinks scheduled throughout the year at Lifetime Fitness.  You must be a member to attend but may join on-site or online.  Check out our calendar and weekly eblast for upcoming events.

Potluck Picnic & Dinner

We invite you to join us for our annual Potluck Picnic held in the spring or fall of each year at Centennial Park as well as our Potluck Dinner in December at HCAS.  It is a great opportunity to meet other families and individuals within HCAS! Check our calendar and weekly eblast for upcoming events.

Pool Parties

HCAS holds semi-annual pool parties (Summer & Winter ) at facilities in Howard County. Pizza, snacks and drinks will be served. Must be a member to attend but may join on-site or online.  Check our calendar and weekly eblast for upcoming events.

Sensory Friendly Movies

Sensory Friendly Movies are offered every month at participating AMC Theaters, including the AMC 14 Theater in Columbia, Maryland. Check our calendar, eblast, and newsletter for specific information; or visit the AMC Website.

Special Advocacy & Resources

Our Special Education Consultant is available to answer questions, offer support, and provide information and guidance related to special education and school system resources, including Individualized Education Program (IEP) and 504-related services.  Families can email info@howard-autism.org or call 410-290-3466.  Appointments can be made by request.

Our Special Education Resources provide parents, educators, therapists, and others with essential resources for understanding, accessing, and succeeding in the world of special education. The information provided on the website is meant to encourage parent advocacy and promote collaboration between home and school. It is intended to educate parents on the rights guaranteed by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA 2004). And, most importantly, it is available to assist parents in finding key special education staff at the county and state levels.

Support Groups

  • Asperger’s Family Support Group– Designed for family members.  Meets the second Thursday of each month at HCAS from 7:30-9:00pm.  For information, call 410-290-3466.
  • Latino Parent Support Group  – Conducted in Spanish, this family support group meets most months at HCAS.  Child care provided.  Consult the calendar for upcoming dates or call Marianela Estrada at  973-223-1024.  Para más información y para inscribirse, contacte a: Marianela Estrada emailnella22@gmail.com; 973-223-1024
  • General Support Group  – Designed for family members with children of any age with ASD.  Led by HCAS’ Family Navigator Michael Stromberg, these gatherings will have a different focus each month.  For more information, check the calendar at howard-autism.orgor call 410-290-3466

Workshops

HCAS Offers many workshops throughout the year! These include:

  • Special Education Workshops & Seminars to enhance parent education of special education issues.
  • Our Brown Bag Seminar Series, in partnership with Pathfinders for Autism.
  • Our annual Transition Symposium, now a collaboration of the Transition Outreach Partnership.
  • Our annual Family Advocacy and Parent Education Workshop, in partnership with the Howard County Public School System and RISE For Autism.
  • Our frequent speaker lineup as part of our Monthly Speaker Series

Please see our calendar of events for our latest plans!