The Eclipse Model

. February 20, 2013.

Sherry Moyer has advice for parents facing autism diagnoses for their children: get ready to work.
“When your child gets a diagnosis, at whatever age that might be, you are going to become your own case manager on many levels. Everybody will have their two cents on what comes next and you have to ask what’s the best route for your child and your family,” Moyer said. “Some families need permission to deviate from cultural norms to do what’s best for their children.  Children don’t have to play soccer, paint or have music lessons to grow up successfully.  Children with autism need additional support and understanding.  You may have to give up some culturally accepted notions to do what’s best for your child” Moyer added.
Moyer, author of The Eclipse Model, a curriculum book aimed at providing educational strategies for autistic people, directs the University of Toledo’s newly established Center for Excellence in Autism.  As a wife and mother, Moyer faced these challenges when her son was diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome at 11.
Moyer hopes the Center will change this reality, not only for Toledo parents, but also for families from all over the country.
“I think one of the most important role the center can play is to come together within the Toledo community to identify critical needs for children and adults so the transition to adulthood is not such a struggle, or such a traumatic event for everyone involved,” Moyer said.
As the Center celebrates the conclusion of its first conference on environmental factors and autism this fall, an event centered on presentations by leading researchers from Harvard and the University of Michigan, Moyer asks that people impacted by autism –teachers,  parents of autistic children’s classmates, doctors – show tolerance.  “Classmates will have to work at initiating the conversations and friendships, but children with autism can be great friends if they’re given half a chance.  If you teach your kids to ask that child with autism ‘Is there anything I can do to help, do you want to sit with me at lunch?’ most of the time, they will be met with a very positive response” Moyer said.
Though the focus on autism is often on children, Moyer says it’s essential to understand autism as a condition that impacts people from every age range.
“Autism is a condition of the lifespan.  Even though readers may focus
on younger children, everything we do for them today will support better outcomes and a bright future for them as adults.  We need to know how to produce those outcomes for adults and what support adults with autism might need to have a job and live independently,” Moyer explained.
The University of Toledo Center for Excellence in Autism began operations in 2010.  Moyer hopes the Center will become a national destination for autism research, medical care and resource dissemination.