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Spectrum Autism Support Group: Meeting Gwinnett’s “Special” Needs

Spectrum Autism Support Group: Meeting Gwinnett’s “Special” Needs

A December 2021 article in Forbes magazine highlighted the impact that corporate philanthropy can have on employee retention and satisfaction. Giving time, investing dollars, and supporting meaningful causes are not only ingrained in the Gwinnett business community; they are economic growth agents for a business’s bottom line. Yet, the options and opportunities are vast in Gwinnett. A new Chairman’s Club member and 24-year Gwinnett non-profit, Spectrum Autism Support Group (SASG), is one such opportunity.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the rate of autism is now 1 in 44 persons and there are over 20,000 individuals with autism in Gwinnett County alone. Claire Dees, Executive Director for Spectrum Autism Support Group, and a proud mother to an autistic son will tell you that the 1,500 individuals served by Spectrum Autism Support Group represent a small number of those in need. That is why larger space, more resources, and continued program growth is so essential to the organization’s future. But oh, what they have been able to accomplish since day one!

Spectrum Autism Support Group was started as a parental support group. Unofficial and simply craving the need for someone who understood their challenges, these parents began to create a vision for what a meaningful support group could provide, influence, and become. From there, they formed an official non-profit and went to task organizing events to raise funds for the organization. Spectrum Autism Support Group continued to grow, filling gaps where needs were identified. They structured themed days camps, scheduled respite programs for parents and caregivers, and orchestrated family-centered learning initiatives and educational inclusion symposiums. They organized consistent communication platforms that raised visibility and increased their engagement with this special fabric of the Gwinnett community. They centralized information and resources, translating them into Korean and Spanish, to serve a broader and more diverse local population. They have grown family services to include events, monthly support groups and free education and training on autism. Spectrum utilizes over 400 volunteers each year has developed its products and services to ensure that the autism community knows it is not alone, but rather that it is valued and contributes greatly to the broader quality of life for which Gwinnett is so well known.

Spectrum Autism Support Group is a “Best of Gwinnett” award winner in 2021 and looks ahead to having its own facility and life enrichment center within the next two to three years, opening it for individuals seeking recreation and socialization in a judgment free, sensory friendly environment. In the last month, Spectrum has gone under contract for its first building location in Duluth and will continue to drive its vision for growth and service in the greater Gwinnett area. To learn more about this incredible resource in Gwinnett and how to make an impact, visit Atl-Spectrum.com.


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