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Legislators for Autism Meet at Giant Steps Illinois
-- Legislative Open House held annually at therapeutic day school to promote autism advocacy --
This year’s Legislative Open House, held on December 2 at 10:00 am, will focus on Giant Steps’ expansion plans which include moving its model school to a 72,000 sq ft facility in Lisle, Illinois, while expanding its outreach and training efforts through its Autism Center for Excellence (ACE). This year’s legislative attendees include: Senators Ed Maloney, Carole Pankau and Kimberly Lightford; Representatives Patty Bellock, Jim Durkin, and Sandra Pihos; Mayors Bill Murphy of Woodridge and Bill Rahn of Westmont; and Lisle Manager Jerry Sprecher. Guests will receive a short presentation of expansion plans and get a tour of the school, including seeing the Big Buddies program with Naperville Central High School in action. Executive Director Bridget O’Connor admits, “it’s strictly a coincidence that the only day our Big Buddies had available was December 2nd, but this will give our elected officials a first-hand view of a successful mentoring program. Perhaps seeing these 60 committed teens will inspire more schools to adopt programs like this. The benefits to our students with autism are immeasurable.”
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About Giant Steps Illinois: Founded in 1997 by parents of students with autism with funding from the Illinois General Assembly, Giant Steps Illinois has continually expanded to better meet the needs of students with autism and their families. The school was initially modeled after Giant Steps Montreal, a school for children with autism founded by a music therapist in 1984. The Giant Steps model still lives on in Montreal, St. Louis, and Sydney, Australia. Giant Steps Illinois serves students 5-21 with a primary diagnosis of autism, and has successfully reintegrated a few students back to their home school districts. For more information, visit www.giantstepsillinois.org.