A nonprofit group in Dickinson is shining a light on autism

In 2018 the CDC said 1 in 59 children was diagnosed with autism, and a group in Dickinson, ND wants to make sure families have the resources they need.

For a child or even an adult with autism, the ability to be able to communicate with others is important.

“If they can’t communicate they wouldn’t able to share their thoughts, wishes, and ideas,” said Jean Herauf, area manager RehabVisions in Dickinson.

Autism can affect a person’s ability to communicate to the point where they are nonverbal.

RehabVisions in Dickinson offers physical, occupational,  and speech therapy for people with Autism.

However, many times families face obstacles when it comes to insurance, like certain services not being covered at all.

“Even when they do pay for therapy there are limits to what many of them (insurance companies) will pay. They might limit the number of visits, high copays, high coinsurance, high deductibles,” said Herauf. 

Shine a Light on Autism, a nonprofit group in Dickinson, wants to help families in need cover those necessary costs.

“We make sure that any child or adult with autism gets the recommended therapy they need,” said Allie Dewitt, president Shine a Light on Autism

The group has been around for about a year, and they help Dickinson families who have a loved one diagnosed with autism, find services and cover the costs of therapy and therapeutic supplies, like comfort blankets and vests.

“We are fully funded through the Dickinson community. We fundraise and do events,” said Dewitt.

For Dewitt and the members of her group, the crusade is a personal one; Dewitt has a five year old son with autism.

“The autism affects his speech. . . his sensory qualities,” said Dewitt.

She and her friends also know the value of finding accessible services.

“It helps them function through life, and it gives them a better quality of living,” said Deborah Fortner, VP Shine a Light on Autism.

Shine a LIght on Autism said it has helped about six families so far and is looking forward to helping more in the future.

The group will be holding a fundraising event at the end of Aril, at the West River Ice Rink in Dickinson.

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