Since 2009, Evan’s Ride for Autism has raised over $85,000 and has supported programs, bettering the lives of many families living with autism in the Niagara Region.
Thanks to our many generous sponsors, riders & donors, Evan’s Ride earned $15,839.68 in 2015. After the Ride’s expenses were paid, $ 11.085.28 was donated to Autism Community to support individuals and families living with autism in Niagara. The proceeds were used by Autism Community in partnership with the Phoenix Centre to establish the first anxiety management program for children with autism in the Niagara Region.
Children with autism are at risk for developing mental health problems, especially anxiety. Up to 70% of persons with autism have mental health symptoms independent of the symptoms of their autism. These can cause real problems in their ability to function at home, at school and in their community. Yet there are few resources designed to help them.
Facing Your Fears is a group-based, anxiety management therapy program developed by a clinical group at the University of Colorado specifically for group-able pre-teens (age 8-12) with autism. The program teaches the children and their parents coping skills and strategies for dealing with their fears. Studies have found that over half of children completing this program show meaningful reductions in their anxiety – a difference that is maintained after the program has ended.
Because of the nature of the problem, Facing Your Fears uses small groups (4-5) and requires the involvement of clinicians. These factors mean that this program is expensive and would be out of the reach financially of many families. Autism Community is committed to ensuring this important program is accessible to families so, in addition to Autism Community’s role in bringing the program to Niagara, proceeds from Evan’s Ride are being used to subsidize it to make it affordable to Niagara families.
As well, Autism Community intends to begin development of a separate parent education program to provide tools and strategies to parents of children with autism to help them teach their children positive coping strategies and to help them understand and adopt approaches to parenting which help their children become more confident in managing their anxiety. This program would complement Facing Your Fears by providing a resource to families who are not able to participate in Facing Your Fears because of the age of their child or the nature of their disability.