Providing Support
Promoting Awareness
Advocating for Change

2018 5K Race Results Are In!

A big THANK YOU to all who participated in our wonderful event this morning.  Your support will go a long way to enhance our mission of providing support, promoting awareness and acceptance, and advocating for positive change in the community.

Click HERE for 5K race results.

Walk/5K Results are IN!

Thank you to everyone who participated in our 11th Annual One Step Closer… Autism Walk/5K Run! We raised $61,230 and counting! Race results can be seen here.

Our winning teams are:

Teams Who Raised Over $1,000:

  • Kyle’s Crew
  • Matt’s Mavericks
  • Stanley’s
  • Team Rory & Danny
  • Trey’s Train

Teams Who Raised Over $2,000:

  • Team Phoenix
  • Ryan’s Troop
  • Merrill Lynch

Teams Who Raised Over $3,000:

  • Team Boxall

Team Who Raised the Most Money:

  • Sam’s Squad with over $7,000!

We’d also like to acknowledge:

Our Largest Team: Ryan’s Troop with a total of 28 Team Members!

Our Most Spirited Team: Sam’s Squad for their enthusiasm and efforts to support the Howard County Autism Society with this event!

All of these team won awards during the event. If you have not picked up your awards, please contact the office at or call at 410-290-3466.

Mark your calendars for next year’s Autism Walk/5K Run held on October 6, 2018! We look forward to seeing you there!

Housing Initiative Named Changemaker Challenge Finalist

The Housing Initiative has been selected as a finalist for the Changemaker Challenge competition! Sponsored by the Horizon Foundation and the United Way of Central Maryland, the Challenge is designed to support innovative ideas to address some of the most pressing social challenges facing Howard County. We’ll compete with other finalists at a live “pitch event” on Monday, October 30, 2017 at 6:00 PM at the Johns Hopkins University Kossiakoff Center for one of three $10,000 grants and valuable project consultation services.

As part of our application, we were required to prepare and post a two-minute “video elevator speech” of our idea on YouTube. You can watch it here. Read about us in The Baltimore Sun.

Admission to watch the Changemaker Challenge is free, but you need to register. Click here to sign up and join us on October 30!

For more on the Housing Sub-Committee, click here.

New Addition to this Year’s Walk: Amazing Racers!

AMAZING RACERS is a new component of our One Step Closer Walk & 5K that offers support for youth and adults with autism who may need additional supports to participate. HCAS will provide one-on-one assistance the day of the event plus the opportunity for two “training sessions” on September 23rd and 30th from 10am-11am at Centennial Park to acclimate individuals to the course and prepare them to take on our Cake Walk ¾-mile course on October 7th. We will meet for the training at the playground near Pavilion D. To guarantee support volunteers for your child, please register by Friday, September 22.

Support will be provided by Spirit Club, The Children’s Spot and student volunteers from University of Maryland and Towson University. Special “Race Clues” will be located along the course to inspire our AMAZING RACERS as they make their way around the course! All racers will be recognized at the Awards Ceremony immediately following the race.

To sign up, please fill out this form. In addition, make sure you’ve also registered
for the event via paper form or online at

12th Annual Pieces of the Puzzle Gala

Thank you to everyone who made our annual 12th Pieces of the Puzzle Gala a success! We are proud to report that the event hosted 265 guests and raised over $80,000 through sponsorships, ticket sales, donations, and the live and silent auctions.  A transcript of John P. Hussman’s keynote address can be found here. We would like to thank our generous sponsors for their support:

We’d also like to thank our In-Kind Contributors:



Sharma & Associates

Toby’s Dinner Theatre

Zippy Shell Portable Storage & Moving – Rich Perry, Storage Unit

For more photos, go to our facebook page!

Bullying Workshop Registration Open!

Join us on May 17th from 9:30-3:30 as we host a workshop titled:  “Bullying of Individuals with Special Needs: What it Means and How You Can Help”.  Funded in part by our HCAS ‘Family Advocacy and Parent Education’ grant through the Department of Community Resources and Services, this event is put on in partnership with HCPSS and RISE for Autism.  For additional information, see this flyer.

Registration can be reached at this link on the RISE website.

Gala Registration

Gala Registration is now closed!  We thank all of you who have purchased tickets and plan to attend.  Looking forward to a great evening!


This year’s event, once again held in partnership with the Hussman Foundation, is set for Saturday, April 29, 2017 from 7pm – Midnight at Turf Valley Resort.

To register or learn more about the event, see our gala page here.

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

Special Announcement: HCAS Receives Service Award from the Howard County Commission of Disability Issues


The Howard County Commission on Disability Issues recognized the Howard County Autism Society (HCAS) for its dedication to improving the lives of people affected by autism at their annual awards ceremony on Oct. 6. A service award winner, HCAS was recognized for its commitment to empowering individuals with disabilities to live self-directed, meaningful lives as full participants in their communities.

The 22nd Annual Commission on Disability Issues Award Ceremony honored the outstanding efforts of individuals and organizations that advance full participation in community life for all people and promote the spirit and intent of the Americans with Disabilities Act and other disability rights laws.

HCAS Walk & 5K Run Results

The HCAS Walk & 5K Run was a fun event despite the rain!
We appreciate all those who were able to participate and contribute to our fundraising event.  But wait, it’s not over!
Please know that the event website will remain open through October for additional donations – so please continue to spread the word to family, friends, and colleagues.
You can view photos from the event on Shutterfly at
and click on the link below for race results at

Ellicott City Flooding Affects Longtime HCAS Supporter, Craig Coyne Jewelers

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Ellicott City Flooding Affects at Craig Coyne Jewelers
The devastating flooding that occurred last Saturday, July 30, 2016, affected a longtime HCAS supporter, Sam Coyne and his business, Craig Coyne Jewelers. Many of you may recall Sam was recognized as the Howard County Autism Society’s 2014 Community Partner Award winner for the unique efforts he extended to partner with HCAS to raise both awareness and funds to
support Howard County’s autism community. Sam not only designed a one of a kind necklace featuring the autism puzzle piece (seen below) but also hosted several fundraising events in his Ellicott City store.
In the aftermath of the devastation in Ellicott City, many are looking for a way to help.  And while emotional support is great, at the end of the day, small business owners will be without income for longer than anyone wants to even imagine. Please take the time to read some of Sam’s words about the flood and aftermath in the link and note, he’s still thinking of others. If you are able to help him here, please do. And if you are able to support his store later, please do that as well.
Custom Autism Necklace

HCAS Mourns Passing of Autism Speaks Co-founder

HCAS is very sorry to learn of the loss of Autism Speaks co-founder, Suzanne Wright.  Mrs. Wright lost her battle to pancreatic cancer on Friday, July 29.  Her work to raise awareness of autism was remarkable and she received many awards for her commitment to the cause.   HCAS appreciates her efforts and offer its sympathy to the Wright family. 

Executive Kittleman seeks permanent status for MLK and transitioning youth commissions

ELLICOTT CITY, MD – Howard County Executive Allan H. Kittleman has filed legislation to create two permanent county commissions – the Martin Luther King, Jr. (MLK) Holiday Commission and the Commission for Transitioning Students with Disabilities. The legislation, which was introduced this week, must now be approved by the County Council.


Kittleman wants permanent status for the two commissions because of the valuable work conducted for the community. Originally created by Council Resolution in 1985, the Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday Commission has been re-authorized each year by Executive Order for the past 30 years. The Transition Council for Youth with Disabilities was created by Executive Order in 2013 and re-authorized by Executive Order in 2014.


“Both of these commissions do important work for the County and requiring re-authorization every year makes no sense,” Kittleman said. “The MLK Commission has existed for three decades. It’s way past time to make it permanent. And the Transitioning Students Commission – while relatively new – performs such an important function for youth with disabilities that I believe strongly in giving it permanent status as well.”


According to the Howard County Code, boards and commissions established by Executive Order are meant to be temporary — typically not to exceed 18 months in term – and cease to exist at the expiration of the Executive Order.


“When I heard the news about legislation seeking permanent status for the Commission, the following quote from Dr. King came to mind: ‘Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter,’” said Roberta Kelly, Acting Chairwoman of the MLK Commission. “As the newly elected Acting Chairman of the MLK Commission, along with the other commissioners, we applaud the County Executive’s decision to end the silence. It’s long overdue. We appreciate his support and that of our elected officials.”


The Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday Commission encourages and coordinates appropriate ceremonies and activities of service throughout Howard County in observance of the holiday honoring Martin Luther King, Jr. Each year, the Commission recognizes outstanding essays written by middle- and high-school students reflecting on the legacy of Dr. King. The Commission also organizes service opportunities and encourages participation in a “Day of Service” on the holiday observing Dr. King’s birthday.


Beth Benevides, who co-chairs the Commission for Transitioning Students with Disabilities with Dawson Robertson, Transition Program Head of the Howard County Public School System, said families of children with disabilities often face great uncertainty when planning for their children’s futures.


“Our families often require greater coordination to prepare children for college, employment and participation in the community,” said Benevides, a parent of a high school student with autism. “We are most grateful for Executive Kittleman’s commitment to support students with disabilities through this legislation. Establishing a County Commission elevates our efforts to bring stakeholders together to address concerns facing transitioning youth with disabilities and their families and to create a roadmap for improvements in the transition process.”


The Commission for Transitioning Students with Disabilities works to establish an effective, efficient and comprehensive delivery of services to meet the needs of county students with disabilities as they transition from high school to post-secondary education and employment.


By examining current practices and making recommendations, the Commission strives to improve outcomes for students with disabilities. The Commission also helps foster greater collaboration between the business, academic, non-profit and public sectors to engage in successful initiatives like Project SEARCH, an internship program designed to immerse students with disabilities in a work environment and provide important job skills.


A public hearing during which both bills will be discussed is scheduled for Monday, June 20 at 6:00 p.m. in the Banneker Room of the George Howard Building, 3430 Court House Drive in Ellicott City. The Council is scheduled to vote on the bills on July 8.



Pieces of the Puzzle Gala was a Great Success!!

Our 11th Annual Pieces of the Puzzle Gala was a great success. Thank you for helping us raise $80,000 for programs and services, and thank you to all of our wonderful Sponsors for their support.

Special thanks to our presenting sponsor: The John. P Hussman Foundation .

     For a transcript of John P. Hussman’s Keynote Address please click here.

Also a special thanks to Heather McCabe for sharing her parent’s journey.

     For a transcript of her speech please click here.

Congratulations to our Award Recipients:

President’s Award: Howard County Police Chief Gary Gardner and Academy Class 40

Community Partner Award: The Children’s Spot

Outstanding Volunteer Award: Madhu Thibaudeau

See below for some pictures from the event. For additional pictures, please click here to visit our Facebook page.

    Hussmans     Heather McCabe Speech HCPD award     Jenn wall      Children Spot Award

HCAS Congratulates the Graduates of Academy 40

Congratulations to the graduates of Academy 40!  Thank you for your support and dedication in choosing HCAS as your Community Service Project.

The class began last September as a class of 19. After 31 weeks of intensive training, eight recruits from the HCPD and one from the Frederick County Sheriff’s Office began their law enforcement careers. They will now undergo 14 weeks of field training. As part of a community service project, the class also raised $3,660 for the Howard County Autism Society and participated in several events with autistic youths and their families.

Congratulations, officers!

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