By Maria Cook
Dr. Naomi Swiezy of Carmel has spent her career as a clinical and behavioral psychologist helping others. But in the early 2000s, she realized help was not coming fast enough for many patients with autism. In response, in 2004 she founded Hands in Autism, an Indianapolis organization focused on meeting needs of those with autism spectrum disorder and other developmental disorders.
“Families (of clients) were trying to navigate the medical system, trying to get services that were needed,” Swiezy said. “At that time, it was about a two-year wait for folks to come into our clinic there. I really wanted to be able to have more of an impact at the community level and state level, giving people the resources they needed so the families would not have to wait.”
Celebrating its 15th year in operation, Hands in Autism provides training for those who will be working with the autistic community, including school personnel, health care providers and emergency responders, among others. The hope, according to Swiezy, is that the training will create communities where autistic people’s needs are understood, no matter where they go.
“We have a large continuum of services that we deliver, so anything from the basic informational sheets, web-based content, lectures, workshops, things of that nature, we’ll do in the community,” Sweizy said. “Most of what we do is really mentoring and coaching folks who are in the field.”
Anyone interested in accessing Hands in Autism’s resources, including webinars and informational videos, can visit handsinautism.iupui.edu or call 317-274-2675.
“We are a resource,” Swiezy said. “We just want folks to have these tools when they need them and not be afraid to ask.”