Support Across the Spectrum
Autism Family Network
Autism, or autism spectrum disorder (ASD), is a neurological disorder that refers to a broad range of conditions characterized by challenges with social skills, repetitive behaviors, speech, and nonverbal communication. According to the Centers for Disease Control, autism affects an estimated 1 in 54 children in the United States, with boys being four times more likely to have autism.
Individuals with ASD may communicate, interact, behave, and learn in ways that are different from others. Their learning, thinking, and problem-solving abilities can range from gifted to severely challenged, causing some to need a lot of daily assistance, while others need less support and, in some cases, live entirely independently. Because autism is a spectrum disorder and has many subtypes, influenced by a combination of genetic and environmental factors, each person with autism has a distinct set of strengths and challenges.
Lincoln is fortunate to have the Autism Family Network (AFN). Its mission is to support and advocate for individuals on the autism spectrum and their families, and is dedicated to providing social and recreational opportunities, and community inclusion.
AFN also promotes a positive, respectful image of people with autism and their families. Its primary function is to provide connection, encouragement, and help in the midst of frustration, discouragement, and loneliness that is very real for these families.
In 2018, AFN launched Project Lifesaver in Lincoln/Lancaster County. Project Lifesaver is a battery-operated band worn by a child or adult with autism who is prone to wandering. If the person is reported missing, specially-trained search and rescue teams from the Lincoln Police Department and Lancaster County Sheriff’s Office will respond using a tracking system. This team is trained to know how to best approach the person once found.
Legislative and educational advocacy, as well as a scholarship assistance program are all focuses of AFN.
Recreational and inclusive opportunities/activities offered by AFN include:
Sensory friendly fun at the Lincoln Children’s Museum
Annual Christmas party
Night at Lost in Fun
Swim nights at Star City Shores
Movies, putt putt golf, bowling
Light It Up Blue for Autism Awareness
Go Fish Kids! Clinic
Husker Heroes at Memorial Stadium