Advertisements
LATEST STORIES

Autism Nonprofit Founder Marks 25 Years of Seeing Beyond the Spectrum

Donna Swanson and her husband Fred Evans are the co-founders of the FOCUS Center for Autism in Canton. Donna has been working with children affected by Autism for over 25 years. The pair opened the Fresh Start School in 2016.

It’s not uncommon for Donna Swanson, co-founder of the FOCUS Center for Autism, to drop everything and race to the rescue of one of her “kids”. While she has no children of her own, she is everything a mother should be; fierce protector, tireless advocate and compassionate teacher. Ever since she opened her private practice in 1992, Swanson has looked beyond a child’s Autistic behaviors to connect with the person inside.

“When I first became a nurse and began working with children and adolescents, I fell in love with individuals on the Autism Spectrum,” explains Swanson. “I recognized a need that was not being met for this unique population. I knew I wanted to create a nurturing environment that would allow them to become their best selves.”

Donna realized her vision to create the FOCUS Center for Autism with her husband and partner Fred Evans. The pair had already worked together for years running group homes. Fred had also dedicated 20 years to improving the lives of homeless people as the Executive Director of Saint Vincent DePaul Place in Middletown and the Program Director of IMMACARE in Hartford.

Since then, over 800 children from over 65 towns in Connecticut and Massachusetts have joined the FOCUS “family” by attending the Clinical Day Program. The founders and the program have received national and local recognition for their trailblazing methods.

Awards include:

Institute of Living for the Children’s’ Day Treatment Program.

Autism Speaks for dedication to the work FOCUS does with the Autism community.

State of CT – General Assembly Official Dedication and Service to the Special Education Community.

Spirit of Septo of Bristol

Charter Oak Financial and Insurance Agency nominated Donna for the work FOCUS does and was presented a plaque at a ceremony at the Rock Cats Stadium in New Britain.

Not content to rest on their laurels, Donna and Fred opened the Fresh Start School in 2016 to provide a full time, state approved special education program for adolescents.

“It has been a dream of ours for many years and we are so grateful to see it come to life!” exclaims Donna. “In the near future we hope to move to a larger and more functional building in order to serve up to 25-30 students.”

Donna further hopes the Fresh Start School will become a model educational program for children with Autism Spectrum Disorder on the national level.

Donna and Fred credit their amazing staff of over 60 employees for the program’s success. All of the clinical staff have a Master’s degree in social work and the Director has a sixth year degree in Administration. Both teachers are dual-certified in special education. Two of the three nurses are APRNs. Teacher Assistants have Bachelor’s degrees.  A number of them have been employed since FOCUS opened and many have worked there for over 10 years.

“We have less turnover than many nonprofit programs because we treat employees like family,” explained Donna, “And they in turn give their heart and soul to FOCUS just like Fred and I do. We do whatever it takes to help a child.”

Examples of their dedication are hosting group home residents at their house on Christmas Eve, Easter and weekends, as well as holding the Center’s Summer Program at their home each week. Attendees can be as many as 30 people including staff.

“FOCUS has been a labor of love for Fred and me,” concludes Donna. “Together we have made a commitment to help create a continuum of care for individuals on the Autism Spectrum one baby step at a time.”

Families who are interested in learning more about the FOCUS Center for Autism and enrollment in the Fresh Start School can call to make an appointment to arrange a tour.

Since 2000, the nonprofit FOCUS Center for Autism in Canton has been dedicated to helping children and young adults with autism spectrum and other related disorders achieve their full potential. FOCUS has developed a well-respected model of care that has now served over 800 children and families.

The FOCUS Fresh Start School is a private, state approved special education program offering children with autism spectrum disorder a quality education experience that addresses their academic, clinical and social needs.

For more information visit www.focuscenterforautism.org or call (860) 693-8809.

Advertisements

ABOUT BRISTOL ROUNDUP

Bristol Roundup is a popular source for Bristol Connecticut news, events and information. The Roundup, started by Bristol resident Mike Uchalid currently has over 5,300 subscriptions and a local social media following of over 30,000 readers across multiple sites, pages and groups. The Roundup provides accurate information, events, news and so much more. We hope you enjoy the site!

MORE NEWS FROM WORDPRESS PARTNER: FOX 61

Madison voters go to the polls for school construction proposal

Madison voters go to the polls for school construction proposal

MADISON — A proposal to restructure Madison elementary schools falls in the hands of the community, Tuesday. A town referendum is being held from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. on the building of a new Ryerson school. A major push behind this is the deteriorating and aging condition of facilities that were built in the 1940’s and 50s, according to district leaders. The project would cost more than $34-million with expected state reimbursement of at least $4-million. This is the […]

FOX61 to show Patriots v Panthers on Sunday

FOX61 to show Patriots v Panthers on Sunday

HARTFORD — FOX61 will televise the game between the New England Patriots and the Carolina Panthers on Sunday, October 1. The station was originally scheduled to show the New York Giants against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, which would have aired at 4 p.m. Station management said, “We have expressed concern to both FOX and the NFL in advance about both local team match ups being scheduled as single headers for Sunday, October 1st. We do our best to inform our […]

Dallas sportscaster delivers powerful monologue, says anthem protests not about disrespecting flag

Dallas sportscaster delivers powerful monologue, says anthem protests not about disrespecting flag

DALLAS – The Dallas Cowboys, along with owner Jerry Jones, took a knee before the national anthem on Monday night. Now, a sportscaster in Dallas is getting national attention for his commentary on the anthem and the NFL. Dale Hansen has spent the last 34 years at WFAA, the ABC affiliate in Dallas. He has earned several awards — but he is more recently known for his commentaries. Hansen has spoken out on gun control, racism, and homosexuality. His most […]

Police officer shot, wounded in suburban New York City

Police officer shot, wounded in suburban New York City

YONKERS, N.Y. — A police officer has been shot and wounded in suburban New York City. It happened just before 8:30 p.m. Monday in Yonkers. The Yonkers Police Department confirms there was an officer-involved shooting, but has declined to give any additional information. A dispatcher at the Yonkers Fire Department says the officer was alert and speaking while she was being taken to a hospital in the Bronx, but could not give the officer’s current condition. Police tell WABC-TV that […]

Comments

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s