We are "CASY Sparks Autism Innovation & Discovery" or simply "CASY Sparks." CASY Sparks is the next major evolution of Project CASY! This reflects so many changes and improvements in our current and future programing as well as increasing emphasis on children, tweens, teens, and their families.
According to Merriam-Webster, spark means to "set off in a burst of activity," "respond with enthusiasm," or "stir to activity." It’s no wonder why the word is commonly used in modern industries, organizations, and other action-oriented entities. Whether you’re a Connecticut native who has been with us since 2014 or just joined our borderless community from across the country, you will find that this simple word eloquently describes how we innovate and discover for the benefit of the autism communities with whom we partner.
CASY Sparks describes the unique and energetic way we carry out the mission of CASY which is to improve lives of autistic people across the lifespan, regardless of their physical location, through social innovation and impactful research. While the overall goal has always been to maximize quality of life across the autism spectrum, how we learned to do this most effectively has evolved as we learned through an iterative process of constant community engagement. Our solid foundation in academia and collaborations with myriad organizations and industries creates fertile ground for new ideas and ways to know better and do better. As a borderless community connected online through multiple social media platforms, developments can happen quickly and shared broadly.
Project CASY was founded in April 2014 to improve autistic lives starting out with more traditional approaches to education and social recreation. Years of experience holding groups and events for our communities led to gradual changes and development of different ways to increase impact on those we serve. We noticed greater traction to achieving our goals with strategic deviations from the status quo – different ways of doing for different ways of thinking and being. Over the past couple years, there has been a greater focus on leveraging available technology, particularly how we use social media and other online resources to connect individuals and communities. While most of our programing has benefited adults, this will change significantly in CASY Sparks as we expand our program to include children, tweens, teens, and their families. When they become adults, they will never be alone in CASY Sparks!
With the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, Project CASY quickly pivoted to robust 100% online programming through Zoom video conferencing and other user-friendly technologies. As much as we encouraged physical distancing, we also encouraged distance socializing and created appropriate opportunities. Using our years of community connection and in-person experiences, we quickly began offering many more virtual events during the early pandemic than we have ever held in person in the prior two years. I’m pleased to share that our community has more than doubled in those short years and continues to grow at an unprecedented rate.
CASY Sparks Autism Innovation & Discovery, but don’t take our word for it. Check it out for yourself. All our groups, events and research studies are documented meticulously across multiple social media platforms @DrRogerJou, mainly Facebook, Instagram and Meetup. This list will continue to grow along with the endless spark for new ideas. While already diverse, this only narrowly reflects what we have planned for immediate and distant future. Yes, we are in it for the long hull and just getting started on a new and better "normal" for autism – come join us wherever you live!
July 3, 2020 update: With spring behind us now and having held well over 160 online meetings via Zoom, we still have a whole summer and fall to fill with high-value activities for personal development and community fun. We'd love to hear your suggestions and comments. Tell us what worked well, what could improve, what we should create and what we should get rid of. The sky's the limit but please assume for the time being that future events will be online. If you are not yet a member and would like to view present, past and (near) future offerings, please consider visiting our Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/DrRogerJou . For those unfamiliar with the Meetup platform, please consider joining our private Facebook group SOCIAL CONNECTIVITY FOR AUTISM https://www.facebook.com/groups/2937093836343790/
DISCLOSURES: Project CASY membership, hosted events and meetings are free. Project CASY is sponsored in part by The Daniel Jordan Fiddle Foundation Adult Autism Research Fund, a generous gift from the Rosen family, and the research/clinical practice of Dr. Roger Jou, including Simons Foundation Powering Autism Research for Knowledge (SPARK) Clinical Site Network - Yale University ( https://www.SPARKforAutism.org/Yale ). As always, please consider sharing with your community / network. Thank you.
INSTRUCTIONS FOR SIGNING UP:
There's more to this website, but in order to view it, you must be a member of Project CASY. To become a member, please do the following:
1) Click on the red "request to join" button at the top of the page, then click on the "sign up with email" button once it appears. This will allow you to sign up for meetup.com. It is free and the information requested in minimal.
2) Simply enter a user name, your email address and password. Click on the red “continue” button under the password field. Please note that a Facebook or Google account is NOT needed to sign up. You simply click on the red "continue" button and ignore the blue "continue with Facebook" and white "continue with Google" buttons.
3) After you are a member of meetup.com, return to the Project CASY front page http://www.meetup.com/ProjectCASY/ and click on the red "join us" button. This will allow you to join Project CASY which is also free. You'll be asked some simple questions about yourself. It will ask you to upload a picture which can basically be any picture you like.
After you are a member, you can see all the content of the Project CASY website. Feel free to check out our upcoming meetings and browse the message board. As a member of Project CASY, you will be notified via email with any updates.