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Books start conversation on autism

WisconSibs and its partners teach lessons about not judging a book by its cover. When the nonprofit set out to help parents of children on the autism spectrum open the conversation about the challenges of the disorder with siblings, they accomplished that with, what else … books.

A $1,000 grant awarded a year ago from the Infant Welfare Circle of King’s Daughters Donor Advised Fund  within the Community Foundation helped pay for distribution costs, promotion and postage for books produced by the Organization for Autism Research. The books address the special bond that siblings share with their brothers and sisters with autism and tips for overcoming the daily challenges these siblings face. The books are activity-based and address different levels of the children’s interest and understanding.

“The response to our book project has been overwhelmingly positive,” Fund Development Coordinator Stephenie Noggle said. “Parents are relieved to have a tool that acts as a bridge and allows them to talk with their kids , not only about autism, but about how their children feel about their sibling with special needs.”

It takes time to get children to talk about autism, Noggle said, “but once they begin to open up, they are both inquisitive and enthusiastic to learn and share.”

Working with partners Friends of Autism, Circles of Life, Appleton East High School and the Building for Kids, WisconSibs distributed 2,000 books.

Nonprofits can apply annually for the Infant Welfare Circle grants. That deadline is this Friday, Oct. 27, at 4 p.m. The maximum grant is $3,000.

The Infant Welfare Circle’s grants support charitable projects benefiting children and young adults. Applicants must serve the people of Calumet, Outagamie or northern Winnebago counties.

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