CAN meeting to address men’s side of autism

Published 4:38 pm Monday, January 30, 2012

The Chilton Autism Network will hold a meeting Feb. 9 at the First United Methodist Church of Clanton in the Crossroads Café at 6:30 p.m.

CAN’s February program is titled “A Father’s Dream” and will focus on the men’s side of autism.

The featured speaker is Chris Willis, a father of two children with autism.

Willis will talk about how he dealt with the news of his children’s diagnosis, as well as the accompanying struggles, triumphs and acceptance.

Licensed Professional Counselor Jared Hood will also speak at the meeting and provide practical tips on dealing with the grief and stress inflicted on families dealing with autism.

“Many do not realize that it is grief that they are experiencing when they receive an autism diagnosis,” Hood said. “It is not wrong to have such an emotion, but parents are often able to better accept that their children may be different than the child they imagined, and in turn, are able to proceed with what they need to do to help their children thrive.

“It is normal and acceptable to grieve,” Hood said, “because to deny grief is damaging to the entire family.”

Hood currently operates the child care/social skills group for CAN. He is an employee of Children’s Harbor Family Center at Children’s Hospital of Alabama

Free childcare is available with a reservation by email to For more information on the program or the Chilton Autism Network, please call Donna Jennings at (205) 258-0178.