Autism, special needs support parent meeting; IEP information

ST. GEORGE – The Southern Utah Autism Support Group, along with the Utah Parent Center, will host an informational meeting for parents of school children with special needs at 6 p.m. Tuesday at Desert Hills High School, located at 828 East Desert Hills Drive in St. George.

This special Parents as Partners in the IEP Process meeting will provide parents with information about the Individualized Education Program, a required teacher-parent education plan designed to meet the individual needs of a student who receives special education services. The information will better equip parents to understand this educational process and be able to work hand-in-hand with the teachers and schools.

About the Southern Utah Autism Support Group

The mission of the Southern Utah Autism Support Group is to provide support and resources to help and strengthen families of person with autism spectrum disorders and related conditions in Southern Utah.

The group, which began in September 2013 with about 10 members, has now grown to about 120 members with a board of professionals that include a teacher, a licensed clinical social worker and a board certified behavior analyst, the group’s president, Bonnie Webb, said. She went on to say the group was born out of a need to provide parents and families a place to go to find support and tools to understand a disorder that has a wide spectrum of manifestations.

Webb said her journey to the group began before her first born, a son, was ever diagnosed with autism. Being her first born, Webb said she wasn’t sure what behaviors were normal and what were not.

Both she and her husband attributed their son’s strange behaviors – things like not responding to his name and repeatedly banging his head against the wall – to bad parenting.

We thought we were unfit parents,” Webb said.

It wasn’t until a friend from church suggested their son might have autism that they felt like they had any answers, she said.

Webb now has four children and two have been diagnosed with autism spectrum disorders, with the third also exhibiting signs, she said. Now, her family is not alone and she wants to help other families find answers and support, too.

“We know how much these parents go through,” Webb said. “We want to help them and their family members have a healthy home environment.”

For Amber Ippolito, a parent volunteer in the group and mother of twin girls who were diagnosed with autism when they were 3, the group is also a way to reach out to the community and educate them about autism and related disorders.

As a growing community, we need to unite so that children with autism have the best possible education and outcome as they grow up,” Ippolito said.

To that end, the Southern Utah Autism Support Group holds monthly meetings offering classes, resources and support for families of children with autism spectrum disorders, and other related disorders, as well as taking suggestions based on the needs of group members. Buckets are placed out at the meetings where parents can leave questions, concerns and ideas, Webb said.

“Anything they need help with,” she said, “we make it happen.”

Parents as Partners

Tuesday’s meeting is open to all parents and teachers of school children with special needs and will be presented by Esperanza Reyes of the Utah Parent Center. Reyes has a Master’s in Human Development and Social Policy and has an adult sibling and a young son with autism spectrum disorder.

Group members said they are excited to offer this special class to the public.

“We want parents to feel included in the IEP process, to feel comfortable working hand-in-hand with teachers and have the knowledge and resources to know their rights,” Ippolito said. “We feel this is a worthwhile class for any parent who has a child with an IEP in school and we encourage them to attend.”

To help include all members of the community desiring to attend, there will be an additional presentation in Spanish that will run at the same time in an adjacent room (Habrà una presentaciòn en español, asi), Webb said.

In September, the group will give a presentation on stress management and resilience, designed for high-functioning special needs children, ages 10 and up, to teach them how to cope with and overcome stress and anxiety. For more information visit the group’s Facebook page.

Event details

  • When: Tuesday, August 19, 6-7:45 p.m.
  • Where: Desert Hills High School, 828 East Desert Hills Drive, St. George
  • A Spanish language presentation will be held simultaneously (Habrà una presentaciòn en español, asi)


  • For more information on the Southern Utah Autism Support Group, visit their Facebook page

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  • Bonnie August 13, 2014 at 9:39 pm

    Awww, this is perfect! Love the article!

  • Deepraj Das August 14, 2014 at 1:49 am

    Yes, the IEP process and it is appreciable and good enough for the parents having autistic child. According to CDC data report, 1 out of 68 children is found with autistic disabilities. And autism is one neurological disorder unlike others has strong genetic basis.
    So, the parents and members of this community should be up to date about the current findings and researches of autism. As I know apart from behavioral interventions, HBOT(Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy) is specially designed to treat the autistic children.

    But the parents must be up to date about the drugs and therapies discovered for autism as I said before. For more information about recent findings of autism you may go through

  • r.neuman August 14, 2014 at 4:08 pm

    Thank you so much Saint George News for helping out the autism and special needs community!

  • BOBBER August 14, 2014 at 7:28 pm

    utah has an extremely high rate of autism. anyone know why?

    • Bonnie August 24, 2014 at 9:05 am

      Bobber, I believe Utah has a high rate of Autism because Utah is more aware of the signs and symptoms. Utah is definitely not behind in catching the signs of ASD early and therefore are able to help families of individuals receive the support and resources needed to help their children succeed. Early Intervention is so crucial for these kids. The 2% of all individuals in Utah being diagnosed with ASD is a great number! ASD rates are skyrocketing all over the world. I am happy to be in a state where they are so on top of the diagnosis, so families and individuals can receive answers and the support they need to fully succeed.

  • r.neuman August 24, 2014 at 2:28 pm

    They don’t know as of yet Bobber. But they do know that evidenced based treatment such as ABA can greatly help. There has always been autism in the 70s, 80s, or 90s but they didn’t know the child had autism, so they were diagnosed with a developmental delay. A lot of those kids have been now officially confirmed and diagnosed as having autism. There is much greater awareness now

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