We're here because ...
- We've been a part of the Charleston, South Carolina area autism community for years, and we've seen a clear need for clear, up-to-date autism information and family support.
- We know what it's like to have to hunt for services for your loved ones with autism. We're here to provide you with resources to help your family move forward.
- We know how difficult it can be to navigate the maze of transition times. We're here to offer free forums, including free talks by top autism doctors and professionals.
But most of all, we're here for you.
Getting to the Heart of Autism in the Lowcountry
"Our daughter was just diagnosed with autism. What do we do now? We don't know where to start; it's overwhelming."
"Trying to find appropriate services for my autistic son is difficult. It's like another full-time job, and I'm already so tired I can barely see straight."
"My older brother has autism, and I'm trying to help our parents figure out some employment options for him. He's been sitting at home watching TV all day, and he could do so much more."
"I run a non-profit, and I'm passionate about helping individuals with autism get quality health care. But I don't have the resources to move forward and do more for the community. Could I partner and pool resources with an existing local group?"
"I know that there are autism families in my town that could use support, and I want to volunteer and help out. I just don't know who to talk to, or where to go to connect."
If you can relate, welcome. You're in the right place, and you are not alone.
The Lowcountry Autism Consortium (LAC) was formed by Dr. Rob Scharstein, a retired radiologist and father of two adult autistic sons, Robert and Sam. As a parent in the early 1990's, Dr. Rob experienced ...
- the difficulty of receiving a timely, accurate diagnosis
- the challenges of finding early, helpful treatment
- the ongoing struggle to meet his two sons' special needs
- the reality of a lifelong commitment to their care
- the need for specific information and support, especially with regards to educational and vocational training, social skills development, housing, and long-term care.
Nearly thirty years later, these are the same issues that you -- autism parents, family members, and professionals -- still face.
Autism research shows autism prevalence rates at epidemic proportions. A recent Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) study revealed that the likelihood of an American school-aged child being diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder increased 72% in just 4-5 years, from 2007 to 2011-12. And as of March 2014, the CDC-reported autism prevalence rate is 1 in 68. The autistic population has soared and autism awareness continues to grow, but vital services and supports are still lacking.
As parents and caregivers, you know the problem well: you strive to obtain services for your loved ones, but you find few bridges between autism experts and families like yours. The LAC is committed to solving this problem by helping you connect with providers and people in the Charleston tri-county region.
After all, when people and groups are working in isolation, it's much harder to effect change. When organizations have never heard of each other, when families aren't connected, the entire autism community suffers. We found ourselves wondering: How many autism-related groups exist? And how many families need the supports they have to offer? These questions led us to the creation of the LAC in spring 2011.
What can we do for you?
We support the Charleston-area autism community by bridging the gap between individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASDs) and high quality, regionally-based services. In response to rising ASD rates, we provide families and professionals with practical, empowering information in an accepting atmosphere, and advocate for autism awareness, research, and lifelong care.
We are committed to getting to the Heart of Autism in the Lowcountry, focusing our efforts on the Charleston, Berkeley and Dorchester counties of South Carolina. We've chosen to zero in on a small area in order to maximize the efficiency of what we do, in hopes that we might provide more comprehensive support to our local communities.
But support means more than just sharing information. Here at LAC, we're proud to offer encouragement and a positive outlook. Since we are part of the Charleston autism community, we know how stressful it is. We know the hard and painful aspects of caring for individuals on the spectrum. But we have also experienced the unique gifts that come with supporting individuals with autism.
We face great difficulties, but we also have reason to hope. With the rise in autism prevalence, we are living in a time of greater awareness and development than ever before. And we are committed to caring for our loved ones on the spectrum across the lifespan, re-imagining autism's place in our world.