After her son was diagnosed with Autism in 2003, Severna Park mom Cheryl Antlitz began attending seminars and gathering as much information as she could about the disorder affecting her son.
Now she is leading the fight to help other individuals with autism and their families.
Antlitz launched RISE for Autism in Severna Park in December 2011, after the Anne Arundel County Autism Society closed.
“After our county chapter closed, so did a lot of community outreach,” Antlitz said. “So that was a huge thing for Autism in Anne Arundel County that was just gone. There was no other true local organization that came out and did community outreach.”
RISE aims to spread awareness as well as provide community support and resources for local individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASDs) and their families.
Antlitz said a lot of support is offered to individuals with autism when they are young, however, as they grow older—into preteens and adults—that support starts to fade. She said as the mother of a child with autism, her goal for RISE is to help kids now, to better their futures.
“I would like it to offer opportunities for growth and independence, and opportunities for individuals with autism to experience the same life experiences that typically developing kids are having,” Antlitz said.
Along with helping the individual kids with autism, Antlitz said RISE is also focused on helping the families. RISE provides grants for local families to assist with education and therapeutic programs not covered by insurance.
“Raising a child with autism places some extraordinary demands on parents as individuals and on the family as a whole,” Antlitz said. “I feel more awareness about autism would increase the level of education among the community, and [I hope] that families are more accepted in the community as a whole."
Last year, $13,000 in funding for the grants came from a golf tournament in Davidsonville. This year, RISE will be hosting the same golf tournament fundraiser on September 13, at Renditions Golf Course in Davidsonville.
Antlitz said all of the funds raised during the tournament help local families in need.
According to RISE, ASDs affect one in 88 children. Through raising awareness and support, Antlitz said she hopes RISE continues to make a difference for children like her son and their families.
“There’s such an increase of individuals being diagnosed both as children and late onset diagnosis with the increased criteria for autism,” Antliz said. “There is such a need to help service these individuals.”
For more information on RISE for Autism, or to register for the golf tournament on September 12, visit the website.