Although there is a lot of information and community resources available for families and caregivers supporting individuals with autism now, that was not always the case.

Long before there were both public and private school options for children diagnosed on the spectrum or so many specialists providing support, there were many people paving the way with little help and few resources to navigate through this complicated and varied developmental disabilities.

It is those early trailblazers in science, academics, medicine and those who were just learning as they went along through trial and error that we recognize and celebrate each year. The Autism Resources of Utah County Council has been recognizing the accomplishments of many people who have helped to lighten the load of so many on the spectrum and their families. It is the time of year that we turn to our communities and ask for nominations for two awards: “Hero for Autism” and “Michael Sproul Community Spirit Award.”

The “Hero For Autism” award recognizes an outstanding individual or group serving in Utah County that has demonstrated ongoing passion and commitment in helping the autism community. Criteria for this award includes a history of 10 or more years in the field, contributions to the autism community that have had deep impact and made lasting improvements in the quality of life of people with autism and their families and have shown initiative, ingenuity and insight while meeting the needs of the autism community. One person or group will be chosen to receive this award.

The “Michael Sproul Community Spirit Award” may be given to more than one individual. This award recognizes a wide range of individuals or groups that are making current contributions to the autism community in Utah County through their commitment of time, resources, their passion, and their influence as an advocate. They can include educators, individuals with autism, family members, volunteers and agencies. Their contributions should show innovation and insight in their efforts to meet specific and/or unique needs in the Utah County autism community.

Nominations for these awards can be made at www.arucc.org/awards/ and will be accepted through Feb. 28. As always, the awards will be presented by ARUCC at the 2019 Autism Conference: “The Lived Experience.” This annual event will be held at Utah Valley University Sorensen Student Center on Friday, April 12. Early registration is available at http://www.uvu.universitytickets.com.

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