SEPTEMBER 2019 | ISSUE 145
This is OUR Success
 
On September 5, 2019, nearly 500 supporters of Arizona Autism United joined together for our 8th annual  Caring Hearts Luncheon . The theme was, "What is Success?" Those in attendance heard the powerful stories of several remarkable parents detailing their own unique and personal autism journeys. 

Our first speaker shared her family's personal story. She is the   mother of four children, including two boys, opposites of one another and each diagnosed with autism.  She shared, " I believe AZA United is the best!  And this is why, through the philanthropy of our family's foundation, we support AZA United's mission and expansion efforts." 

Our second speaker was the proud mother of five children, including one on the autism spectrum.  She joked that she knows "pretty much everything there is to know about Indiana Jones, Star Wars and Harry Potter" because of her son's interests. She shared with the audience how her son has developed a love of baking and how he bakes various treats and donates a portion of his earnings to AZA United. She then revealed, "Every kid needs reliable help behind the scenes, plus good cheerleaders. My son is lucky to have some wonderful people in his corner. The employees of AZA United are his people, and we are so grateful for them!"

Our Clinical Director of Family and Community Services, Dr. Ehren Werntz, discussed the services his team provides within our Clinical Family Coaching program. He revealed how the families his team serves are often impacted by more than autism. Dr. Werntz stressed the importance of focusing on the needs of the whole family in order to achieve success. He shared heart warming stories of past clients and pointed out, "It takes a lot of work to get to 'you can do this,' but I think we're on to something here: 'We can do this.'"
 
Our founder and CEO, Dr. Aaron Blocher-Rubin, shared AZA United's update regarding expansion, starting with a new east valley center, which will be a new hub for all-day interdisciplinary treatment combining ABA, speech and feeding therapy in a setting that is optimized for children to learn, as well as interact with each other to develop social interaction skills. 

Our final speaker, an AZA United Board Member and parent, shared his family's personal journey. He stressed the importance of family and community support. He declared to the crowd, "These kids can't make it alone. They need AZA's services and support - and so do the parents."

Because of our generous supporters and sponsors, AZA United raised over $115,000 at the Caring Hearts Luncheon!
 
With 83% of each donation going directly toward services for families in need, AZA United is confident that we can reach our goal of continued expansion and further our mission of helping as many families as possible with individualized supports.    Watch this year's inspiring video of our children's success by clicking here. 

If you were unable to attend but would like to support AZA United's expansion efforts,  click here to  make a secure online donation.
 
Photos of the event, courtesy of  Amy Haley Photography, are also available by  clicking here.  Additional photos were taken by volunteer and Magellan employee, the wonderful Jackie Werner. Thanks to everyone who supported this year's event, our best one yet!


Gratitude for Companies with Caring Hearts

Arizona Autism United would like to recognize each of our sponsors that contributed to our 2019 Caring Hearts Luncheon. We are beyond grateful to these companies which are investing in the lives of local families living with autism!
Design Works Gaming  was this year's Elite Sponsor. This is their second year as Elite Sponsor. Design Works Gaming creates unique, engaging and highly original casino, internet, mobile and social gaming products that command players' attentions and sustain their enjoyment levels. Thank you to the owners of DWG, Troy and Jamey Zurawski!  
Mercy Care is a not-for-profit health plan offering integrated care to children, adults and seniors eligible for Arizona Health Care Cost Containment (AHCCCS) benefits.
Magellan Complete Care is an AHCCCS Complete Care health plan. They serve members in Maricopa, Gila and Pinal Counties. 
UnitedHealthCare offers health insurance plans to meet the needs of individuals and employers. They are an AHCCCS Complete Care health plan. 
BMO Harris Bank  is a trusted financial institution to help meet all banking needs.  BMO Harris Bank has been a long-time supporter of our community luncheon.
Autism-Products.com  is AZA's favorite online store with a large selection of products designed to help meet a variety of sensory needs. Autism Products.com has been a long-time supporter of our community luncheon and AZA United's mission in various capacities.
Mutual of America  provides group and individual variable annuity contracts and related services for the pension, retirement, and long-range savings needs of various organizations and their employees.  
Care1st Health Plan Arizona is an AHCCCS and KidsCare health plan available in Maricopa and Pima Counties. Care1st is dedicated to working with providers and community partners to maintain the health and well being of their members. 
Lovitt & Touché  is one of the largest independent insurance brokerages in the United States, with nearly 200 employees in three offices and over $400 million in total premiums - Lovitt & Touché has the experienced personnel and financial strength to solve your insurance problems all over the world.
Concepto Grafico  A local print-shop family owned and operated. They have been a supporter of our organization for several years. We enjoy working with their professional staff who has years of experience and expertise in the print industry.
Omni Scottsdale Resort and Spa at Montelucia  is an intimate oasis inspired by the exotic locale of Spain's Andalusia region. A beautiful venue for our luncheon!  
Thank you to all our 2019 Caring Hearts Luncheon Sponsors!
Tips for a Successful Halloween
 

Amanda McKinney, Service Coordinator & Olivia Fryer, Outreach Specialist
 
Halloween can be a bit tricky for individuals on the spectrum. It's the one night of the year where it's okay to talk to strangers and take candy from strangers, and we ring people's door bells but don't go inside! There are many things to consider when it comes to having a successful Halloween, and preparation is key. Here are a few of our favorite tips:

Visual stories and videos
Watching social stories and videos can help on the front end of prepping to portray Halloween expectations. Create your own visual schedule with expectations of the night for the child to see and follow during the event.

Costumes
Many individuals on the spectrum have sensory issues with costumes (wigs, make up, and scratchy outfits). Make sure your child is willing and comfortable wearing their costume prior to the big day. Consider allowing the child to wear their costume around a couple nights before. If they aren't taking well to the costume, perhaps try a simple pumpkin t-shirt or pajamas that they would be comfortable in.

Practice makes progress, not perfection
Practice the steps of trick or treating as much as possible prior to the night. You could talk to a few surrounding neighbors and see if they would be willing to let your child come up to their door to practice. Or even try in your own home! Close all the doors and get siblings or friends involved in the process. Knocking, saying trick or treat, receiving the candy, waving bye or saying thank you, and walking away.
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Announcements

Join us at the Surprise Care & Share Expo on Saturday, October 5, 2019  from 10am to 2pm. The Expo is a FREE, community event in Surprise that encourages creating connections to  human service organizations, health resources and medical checks.

 
The office of AZA United will be closed on Monday, October 14, 2019 in observance of Columbus Day. 



Upcoming Events

Join us for our final  Sibshops event of the year on Saturday, October 5th! The event will take place from 10am to noon at the offices of AZA United. Sibshops are intended for sibs 7-14 years old. Registration is required.

For more information contact  familyoutreach@azaunited.org or call 480-302-5152. 

Link of the Month


Important Reminder! The  Silver Alert  program  is "activated when a person with specific cognitive or developmental disabilities, as defined by statute, or a person the age of 65 or older goes missing." 

Last year,   The Arc of Arizona's Executive Director, Jon Meyers, explained in detail what the inclusion of individuals with developmental disabilities in the Silver Alert program means for our Arizona community!

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Arizona Autism United | info@azaunited.org | 602.773.5773 | AZAunited.org