Raising awareness for autism (religion)

Published 10:28 am Friday, April 15, 2016

By Chanel Bingham

April is Autism Awareness Month, and local nurse and autism advocate Angela Batchelor is passionate about providing education, raising awareness and promoting acceptance and understanding for those families who face this diagnosis.



According to the Centers for Disease Control, autism is the fastest growing developmental disability, with a prevalence of 1 in 68 births. Many families in Chilton County are affected by an autism diagnosis, but resources are limited.

In hopes of providing more tangible help to those in our community, Batchelor has partnered with the non-profit organization KultureCity, based out of Birmingham.

“When I worked at Children’s Hospital in Atlanta, I helped coordinate a specialty care clinic for children, including those with autism,” Batchelor said. “I grew to love those kids and their parents, who tried so hard to improve the quality of their child’s life with little to no resources.

“Through that experience, I became passionate about these children and their families. When I moved back to Alabama, I learned from my friend Dr. Julian Maha that he had just established KultureCity. I was so thrilled and immediately jumped on board.”

Although only established in the last few years, KultureCity has already garnered several awards for their work within the autism community, including the prestigious Microsoft “Upgrade Your World” award, honoring those who do great things.

In addition to raising awareness and providing education, Batchelor said KultureCity works hard to provide much needed technology to help better serve the autism community.

“We provide iPads for the non-verbal, autistic child, Lifeboks, which are free kits given to families of autistic children that use GPS technology to prevent wandering related accidents, and sensory blankets,” she said. “[Autistic] children often don’t rest well in the evenings, so we provide the sensory blanket, which is a weighted blanket that provides security and helps them rest a lot better,” Batchelor said.

Passion for helping others: Angela Batchelor (third from left) advocates for the autism community with support from her husband, Stanley, and has passed along her passion for helping others to her two daughters, Mia and Zoe.

Passion for helping others: Angela Batchelor (third from left) advocates for the autism community with support from her husband, Stanley, and has passed along her passion for helping others to her two daughters, Mia and Zoe.

KultureCity also provides financial support for initial diagnosis and ongoing therapies, as well as reaching out to the community to find ways to partner together to help meet the needs of autistic children and their families.

“One of the things KultureCity has done is teamed up with different restaurants that are ‘sensory sensitive.’ Many autistic children can become overwhelmed or overstimulated by loud noise or bright lighting, which can cause the child to self-stimulate or meltdown,” Batchelor said. “The restaurants will provide special times where they will accommodate the families by seating them in a quieter corner with lower lighting and softer music, so that the parents can have an opportunity to go out and do things that other families get to do.”

KultureCity also hosts an annual education forum each year. “We are trying to get more teachers involved so that there can be a recognition between a child who has a behavior issue and a child that needs to be evaluated for autism,” explains Batchelor. “So often, autistic kids try to function in a world that doesn’t understand what’s going on with them.”

Batchelor has also passed along her passion for helping others to her two daughters, Zoe and Mia. “We want to give back to our community, and our passion is children,” says Batchelor. “We see this as a population of children that are grossly underserved and need our best.”

Both Zoe and Mia have babysat for families who have autistic children, with Zoe also tutoring kids with learning disabilities.

Batchelor shares that her faith has played a major role in serving the autism community. “I feel that God has lead me to do this. I have worked first-hand with people who face this issue, and God has given me compassion for them. Jesus calls us to be compassionate and help those in need, and I just can’t imagine what He would say to me if I got to Heaven and didn’t do my part. I have seen God at work in every step of this journey.”

Batchelor also shares that it is so important that we, as a community, be gentle and compassionate. “You never know what a person is going through, and there may be something way more profound happening that you don’t see,” she said. “We need to show more love and understanding and be open to learning instead of judging. We need to be a part of the solution, not a part of the problem.”

For more information on KultureCity or how you and/or your business can become involved, please visit their website at kulturecity.org or contact Angela Batchelor at 334-467-4031.

“And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.” Hebrews 13:16

Chanel Bingham is a freelance writer, blogger and public speaker. She resides in Thorsby with her husband and four children. You can visit Chanel at www.thepolishedcanvas.com or on Facebook at “The Polished Canvas.” Her column publishes each week.