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Newsletter – May 2022

“In A Different Key” Continues to Open Doors

Thank you to everyone who joined us for private screenings of “In A Different Key.” More than 400 people attended two screening of this extraordinary documentary about the first person diagnosed with autism and a mother’s search for answers on how to build supportive communities like Forest, Mississippi and Phoenix (both featured in the film). We greatly appreciate the invaluable community support from our sponsors and the continuing-education credit hours offered for these events by the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office, AZ POST and Creighton University Medical School. We’ve received overwhelming response by those inspired to and interested in getting more involved!

New Autism Podcast

Continue listening to the weekly podcast “Autism’s First Child” on iheart.com (running for six weeks) about Donald Triplett, the compelling subject of “In A Different Key.”

Transition Academy Graduates Head Toward Bright Futures

Congratulations to the Transition Academy class of 2022 graduates! We applaud your journeys to greater independence the last two years and are incredibly proud of your growth and progress—and especially how you’ve adapted, navigated and overcome unprecedented challenges along the way. You inspire us and we look forward to the great things you will accomplish in your very bright futures!

LNCS Linking Family Members to Relevant Issues

May’s LNCS session—Supporting Safe and Healthy Relationships—was led by Peter Gerhardt, Ed.D. and executive director of the EPIC School in Paramus, New Jersey. Dr. Gerhardt discussed key strategies for family members in support of their loved ones’ safe and healthy relationships, as well as identified social outlets for individuals with autism and other neurodiversities.

Lifelong Networks for Communities of Support, or LNCS (pronounced “links”), is a group of parents and family members of adults with autism and other neurodiversities who are committed to coaching and connecting families to achieve action-oriented outcomes. The goal of LNCS is to help pave the way to more independent and joyful living for individuals—and peace of mind for families.

The topic for our Wednesday, June 22 LNCS session from 1 to 2 p.m. (MT) is “Strategies and Solutions for Addressing Inequities Due to Race, Autism and/or Other Neurodiversities with Stephanie Keeney Parks, M.A., who is also a Ph.D. candidate at UCLA’s Department of Anthropology. More details to come soon!

Community Life Alive and Well at First Place

First Place residents are out and about in the community! Here are just a few of the recent activities that kept residents engaged and on the go this month…

  • May’s Adventure Club outing was one for the books—or skies! Residents experienced forever memories as they took a trip to iFLY Indoor Skydiving in Phoenix to learn some exciting skydiving skills. After a quick lesson and donning all their gear, each participant took turns in the wind tunnel with the instructor. It was a challenge to keep their arms and legs straight, bodies relaxed and chin up while “flying” between 70 and 80 mph, but everyone did a great job and had tons of fun! 
  • A Cinco de Mayo celebration included traditional Mexican soda and homemade guacamole.
  • Residents made homemade candles for Mother’s Day. Each candle was as unique as its maker and filled with love. Steps included picking out delicious scents (vanilla and cookie mixes were the favorites!), choosing a color and topping them off with flowers.
  • To mark Scavenger Hunt Day, residents went on an “alphabet hunt” around the property. Two teams had 20 minutes to search high and low for 26 different items, including puzzles, jewelry and umbrellas. It was a super-fun, super-close hunt—with the victorious team winning by just one point!
  • National Creativity Day offered residents a chance to showcase their many unique talents with their very own (and first annual!) talent show. Several stars sang some of their favorite songs karaoke style or played their favorite instruments. Thanks to all for sharing your many amazing talents with us!

CASP Conference Promotes Theme of “Better Together”

The Council of Autism Service Providers, or CASP, hosted its annual conference in Portland, Oregon, attracting 550 attendees—including First Place AZ Founder and President/CEO Denise Resnik. Denise presented “The Power of Our Example: Fueling a New Wave of Housing & Community Options” to pioneering parents, professionals and leaders from the nonprofit and private sectors during a session focused on collaborative housing and community development strategies. Award-winning journalists and co-producers Caren Zucker and John Donvan were also there for an exclusive, private screening of their extraordinary documentary about autism “In A Different Key” and a lively Q&A.

Creighton Partnership a Solid Win–Win

Thank you, Creighton University, for more good news! We’re proud to collaborate with medical students from the Creighton University School of Medicine in Phoenix and Dr. Caroline Kim Kupfer from Dignity Health to provide such important learning opportunities for these future healthcare providers. Their invaluable support of First Place–Phoenix residents in advocating for their own healthcare—an often-challenging area for adults with autism and other neurodiversities—is helping them progress on their journeys to more independent living.

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