Providing Special Care For Special Kids

Local non-profit helps area children with autism
BY: PHIL GOODE

Since it was established 15 years ago, the Los Cabos Children’s Foundation has invested $15 million USD in local programs that help improve children’s quality of life, with a focus on health. But unlike most other non-profits, which raise money for their own programs, the LCCF uses the donations it gets to support and strengthen other community programs.

Over the next year, the Gringo Gazette will be featuring the 26 LCCF grantees for 2017-18, profiling each organization and the work they do. In this issue, we are profiling Red Autismo, which provides services for kids on the autism spectrum.

redaut.JPGRed Autismo is a non-profit organization that aims to provide specialized care to children and adolescents with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). The goal is to improve their developmental skills as far as they can go.  (Before we go any further, we need to offer a brief explanation about the name. It’s not red like the color; in Spanish, red means “network.” So, this is the autism network of Los Cabos.)

For those unfamiliar with ASD, it is a neurobiological developmental disorder that includes autism and Asperger’s syndrome. ASD shows itself early on in life (within the first three years), with some babies with more severe cases showing characteristics of ASD before they’re even a year old.

The severity and effects vary widely; some children might just have mild impairments while others face bigger obstacles. Every child on the autism spectrum has problems, at least to some degree, with communicating verbally and non-verbally, relating to others and the world around them, and thinking and behaving flexibly.

There are different (and sometimes controversial) opinions among doctors, parents, and experts about what causes autism and how best to treat it. The one thing everyone does agree on is that early and intensive intervention helps. For children at risk and children who show early signs, it can make all the difference.

Red Autismo was started by two local mothers who had children with autism and were frustrated by the lack of services available in Los Cabos for children with developmental disorders. It officially began as a non-profit organization in June of 2008, with the goal of providing alternative treatment options that were accessible to area families.

In 2010, they opened the Red Autismo therapy center in San Jose. Red Autismo’s current facility includes a sensory gym, one-on-one therapy rooms, three INEVI classrooms, along with a yard, kitchen, office and waiting room.

Red Autismo has three main areas of focus: Workshops, treatment therapies and education. Through their parents’ workshops, school counseling and training courses, they work to improve awareness about autism within the families and schools

The therapies offered by Red Autismo include evaluations, occupational therapy, sensory integration, speech and communication therapy, and cognitive and learning skills therapy. They also offer ongoing training for the therapists, to make sure the children receive the best and most up-to-date treatments.

In January of 2015, Red Autismo started its educational pilot program, Inclusive Educational with an Integral Approach (INEVI). The objective of the program is to promote a personalized academic program based on an evaluation of the child’s development, which helps identify the students’ strengths and weaknesses. INEVI provides the necessary tools and skills so, later on, the kids can be included in regular schools, and also in society as a whole (hence the inclusive part of the program’s name).

INEVI started with one program, but the results were so encouraging that Red Autismo started two more INEVI groups for the 2015-2016 school year. The program now includes two pre-school groups and an elementary school group, with a total of 75 children enrolled.

Red Autismo doesn’t receive government funding, and relies solely on donations. A charity concert, which is a joint fundraiser for Red Autismo and Surfers Healing (another autism non-profit), is scheduled from 6:00 to 10:00 p.m. on Tuesday, October 24 at The Rooftop at The Cape hotel. Tickets are $60 USD for general admission and $120 for VIP. Tickets are availiable at Pez Gordo, The Shoppes at Palmilla and The Home Store in Plaza Paseo Los Arcos.

For more information, visit www.redautismo.org or find them on Facebook at Facebook.com/redautismo. To learn more about the work of the Los Cabos Children’s Foundation, visit their website at www.loscaboschildren.org.