What’s going on?
After a year of planning, Autism Site Knoxville’s nonprofit community center for support, resources, training, and extracurricular programs is opening soon. The facility will be open for use for Artistic Spectrum’s Autism Arts Exploration program in late January, and will begin offering additional programming by mid-February. The facility will be parent-driven, with no employees. All of the programming will be run by volunteers and interns, except for a few of the contracted teachers for extracurricular programs who will be paid with student tuition fees.
Where is it?
The ASK autism community center will be at Papermill Center, 4028 Papermill Dr. Our neighbors include a music recording studio, a ballroom dance program, and an occupational health clinic. The board has taken great care to find a very nice space of 3000 sq ft that is convenient to all parts of the Knoxville area, but is located on a smaller, less noisy street than the major highways.
What will the facility be like?
The Autism Site Knoxville center is designed to be both a meeting & training facility as well as a home away from home for individuals with autism and their families.
The lobby will have autism resources & services as well as autism event announcements and an idea board.
The Quiet Room will include a massage chair for parents as well as books and beanbags for children who need a sensory break.
The Art Room will have a multitude of different art supplies for open use as well as classroom tables for Artistic Spectrum’s Autism Art Exploration workshops.
The Training Classroom will be used to educate the entire community about autism, from family members to business managers, churches, and first responders.
The Playroom is designed especially for younger children. Open play hours will be posted in addition to more structured playgroup sessions.
The Rec Room will be a space where families can play together, and where older children, teens, and adults can build friendships. Two conference rooms will be available for board meetings, collaborative projects, and parent support groups. Open flex space will allow ASK to offer new programs in yoga, martial arts, and fitness.
ASK is a project of Artistic Spectrum, Inc., a local nonprofit organization initially dedicated to creative and recreational opportunities for individuals with autism spectrum disorders.
Board members include Dr. Bill Allen of Cherokee Health Systems; Laura Comas, master crocheter & co-owner of Knoxville Academy of Music; Veronica Cordell, autism parent; Susan Holton, Speech Language Pathologist; Alanna Rosen, Art and Special Education Teacher; and Lisa Ross, School Psychologist.
Funding for equipment and first year’s lease of the ASK center is provided through a grant from the Trinity Health Foundation of East Tennessee.
Committee members on the Advisory Team include clinical therapists, ABA specialists, UT faculty members, and special educators. University student interns in Public Relations, Website Management, and Autism Programming, as well as interns from the UT FUTURE Program will help keep things running.
Parent Leaders already selected include: Tabatha Rainwater, Monthly Preschool Outings; Devon Alley, Monthly Teen Outings; Mandi Lawson, Fundraising Event Chair; and Sarah Notarianni, Autism Welcome Packets for area newcomers and the parents of newly diagnosed individuals.
Additional Parent Leaders needed include organizers for the following programs taking place at the center: Preschool Playgroup, Teen Hangout, Homeschool Social Meetup, Fitness or Running Program, Adult Social Group, and School-Age Game Night. We also need more light clerical help.
How can you help?
Go to the bottom of the AutismSiteKnoxville.org home page to find links to the Donation Site, the Volunteer Form, and the Parent Leader Application.
Do you have special expertise in finance or legal matters? We may be able to use your expertise. Drop us a line at ASK@autismsiteknoxville.org if you are interested in helping out as we transition from a community-based art education and recreation program to a comprehensive community support center.
Want to donate goods like toys, books, office supplies, and fitness equipment? Send a message to ASK@autismsiteknoxville.org and let us know what you’d like to donate; we’ll set up a time when it can be dropped off.
Would you rather do something hands-on? We’re planning a work weekend on January 9-10 to paint the walls and install furniture. Also, if you happen to lead a community service group, we could sure use your help that weekend!