HCAS Named 2019 ASA Affiliate of the Year!

The Howard County Autism Society (HCAS) an affiliate of the Autism Society of America (ASA), is thrilled to announce that we have been selected as the 2019 ASA Affiliate of the Year! The award will be formally presented at the ASA National Conference on July 9, 2019 in Bethesda, MD. The Autism Society Affiliate of the Year award recognizes an affiliate for exceptional work toward improving the lives of those with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) in the United States. Currently, ASA has about 80 affiliates nationwide.

HCAS is honored to be recognized for our more than 25 years of work and commitment to provide support, promote awareness, and advocate for change on behalf of individuals with ASD and their families in Howard County, MD.  We celebrate with members of our staff, board of directors and volunteers who, everyday, make our work possible.  At the same time, we salute the work of our sister affiliates and the ASA for their efforts to improve the lives of Americans affected by ASD. Together, we seek to maximize quality of life, ensure the highest level of dignity, and create a society in which their talents and skills are appreciated and valued.


Thank you to everyone for your kind words and support this past week. The Thibaudeau family will host Madhu’s Celebration of Life on April 6th from 4-8pm here at HCAS in the HC Non-Profit Collaborative, 9770 Patuxent Woods Drive, Columbia, MD. (Park and enter from the rear of the building — follow the signs). It is a place very near and dear to her heart, and will be a personal, informal affair.

We will be there on Saturday April 6th (her birthday) and you’re invited to come and go as you please. We will have food and drink and maybe some ‘80s music in the background. From Roger, “I wouldn’t be surprised if you hear Piano Man or Country Roads at some point in the evening either .”

Dress is casual. This will NOT be a sad affair. Purpose will be to celebrate her life, and share some of it with each other. So, bring your stories with you! And you’re welcome to bring your own pictures to share as well.

In order to help with food/drink amount, if you’re planning on attending, please email Roger rethibaudeau@verizon.net with the number of people who will be coming with you so we can plan accordingly for food and space (RSVP isn’t mandatory, if you forget and want to come, please come!).

Pass this message along to all Madhu’s friends and family who may be interested. And thank you once again for all your thoughts and prayers.

Gala Tickets Go On Sale Friday (2/1)!

Tickets for HCAS’ 14th Annual Pieces of the Puzzle Gala go on sale Friday, February 1st, at www.howard-autism.org!  The event, this year with a Groovy 70’s theme, will be held on April 27, 2019 at Turf Valley Resort in Ellicott City from 7:00pm – Midnight.

Stop Waiting & Start Planning at ’17 Transition Symposium on 3/18

The Howard County Autism Society (HCAS) as part of the Transition Outreach Partnership will host the 2017 Transition Symposium on Saturday, March 18, 2017  for youth with disabilities as they begin their post-high school search for employment and education.  The event will be held from 8am – 4:30pm at Cedar Lane School, 11630 Scaggsville Road, in Fulton, MD.
The day-long conference offers parents, caregivers, professionals, and transitioning youth with developmental and physical disabilities an opportunity to learn about a wide variety of transition-related topics.
“This year’s event features a plenary panel of parents whose children have successfully navigated the transition from high school, and an update on Maryland State disability policy and initiatives,” said Patrick Boxall, Vice President of HCAS. “With an expanded menu of 24 different sessions designed for a general audience, or specifically for transitioning youth, the symposium will benefit novices to the transition process as well as those in need of guidance on particular issues.”

The symposium will offer a plenary session and several breakout workshops throughout the day led by experts in the areas of finance, education, law, disabilities, and healthcare. Some sessions will be geared toward a general office, some to youth, and others will target both groups.   Planned general workshop topics include: IEP Planning for Transition, Post-Secondary Vocational Training Programs, Disability Support Services on the Post-Secondary Level, DDA Eligibility and Services, Self-Employment, Assistive Technology for Transition, Social Security Benefits, Guardianships, and Supported Decision Making.   Planned transitioning youth workshops will explore such topics as Public Transportation, Dating and Relationships, Self-advocacy, Cooking, Social Media, Driving, Money Management, and Micro-Enterprises.

Guest speakers include County Executive Allan H. Kittleman and Maryland Department of Disabilities Secretary Carol Beatty.

The Transition Symposium is an event of the Transition Outreach Partnership, a collaborative effort of HCAS, Howard County Public School System, Howard County Government, and Accessible Resources for Independence, Inc. It receives support from the Governor’s Interagency Transition Council for Youth with Disabilities (IATC) and the Maryland Developmental Disabilities Council (MDDC).

The cost to attend the symposium is $25 for registration prior to March 10 and $35 per person after. Admission is $10 for transitioning youth ages 14-24.  Registration is online at http://www.howard-autism.org/transition-symposium-2017/.  For more information, contact Janet Dabu at 410-290-3466 or janet.dabu@howard-autism.org.

Middle School Workgroup on Autism

Report and Recommendations
Howard County Autism Society and Howard County Public School System

In June 2014, a workgroup was formed to address concerns from parents, the Special Education Community Advisory Committee (SECAC), and the Howard County Autism Society (HCAS) with regard to the middle school experience for students with autism. 

The Purpose of the workgroup was to evaluate the program needs of students with autism and related disabilities in middle school and to make recommendations for systemic change aligned with the HCPSS Vision 2018 strategic plan and the Bridge to Excellence Act. In each document, students—including those with disabilities—are to be given access to rigorous curriculum and highly qualified teachers. According to HCPSS, its vision is that “every student is inspired to learn and empowered to excel.”

The Need for this workgroup was agreed upon by the Department of Special Education and families. The increasing number of students with autism in Howard County Public Schools and the intensity of their needs were growing concerns among educators and parents. In addition to the intensity of student needs, a primary concern was improving professional
development with regard to teaching and including students with autism and related

The Goals of the workgroup were to:
1. Collect comprehensive data on the current middle school landscape;
2. Determine barriers to a successful middle school experience for students with autism;
3. Formulate recommendations for systemic change that are evidence-based and feasible.

Read the full Middle School Workgroup on Autism Report and Recommendations