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All In For Autism: Making community connections where they're needed most

The Autism Society of Southern Arizona strives to make a place where people with Autism Spectrum Disorder can be themselves
Posted at 2:14 PM, Apr 05, 2023

TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — Each month we focus on a local non-profit with our Giving Project: Doing Well by Doing Good.

This April—a month designated as Autism Acceptance Month—we're shining the spotlight on the Autism Society of Southern Arizona.

The Autism Society's vision: Create a world where everyone in the autism community is connected to the support they need, when they need it.

Kate Elliott is a mother of two kids with autism. She's also the executive director of the Autism Society of Southern Arizona.

"You've met one autistic person, because there's really no look of autism," Elliott says. "My children are complete opposites in every possible way, but they're both autistic."

The non-profit is a life-changing resource for parents to connect with the autism community.

Sara: "It makes all of the difference. You can have all of the information about the things or the places or the other organizations but having a group of parents..."

Bodhi: "...That you can confide in is very important."

Sara: "It is."

Sara Selby's son Bodhi is well aware of the Autism Society and the help it provides for his mom.

Bodhi was diagnosed about a year ago.

"I wasn't particularly surprised by the diagnosis, but realized very quickly that I didn't know all of the things that I felt like I should," says Selby.

She turned to the Autism Society of Southern Arizona, finding strength with the monthly Parent Peer Support Group.

"We'll share the practical things but then just all of our experiences—it's invaluable," Selby says.

The Parent Peer Support Group hosted by the Autism Society of Southern Arizona meets each month to share experiences, make community connections and find opportunities for their children. It's one of several services ASSA offers.

The Autism Society also offers several programs for young people like Bodhi, including a once-monthly Teen Meet Up.

Selby says, "It's just a place he can be his unique self."

Elliott is new to her job as executive director of the Autism Society. But her unique perspective as a mother of two children with autism helps her understand the direction she hopes to take the nonprofit.

Elliott wants the Autism Society to be an ally and an advocate:

"That we can be a hub for finding community and connection and that we can really make Southern Arizona and Tucson a place where it's like the best place to be autistic ever."
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Speed Dating 101 event hosted by the Autism Society of Southern Arizona early in 2023.

We invite you to make a donation to the Autism Society of Southern Arizona on our Giving Project page.

Our partners in the Giving Project, the Community Foundation for Southern Arizona, will match the first $500 in donations.

You can also support the Autism Society by attending their April fundraising event, All in for Autism Day on Saturday, April 15.

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Pat Parris is an anchor and reporter for KGUN 9. He is a graduate of Sabino High School where he was the 1982 high school state track champion in the 800 meters. While in high school and college, he worked part-time in the KGUN 9 newsroom. Share your story ideas and important issues with Pat by emailing or by connecting on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.


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The Giving Project wants to identify local nonprofits that address community needs to spotlight a new nonprofit every month. Email details and contact information to