Autism Services wins iPads with Apparo award

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - The public face of Autism is often young.

"They grow up," said C. Marc Phillips. "They don't grow out of being Autistic."

Phillips is executive director of Autism Services of Mecklenburg County (ASMC). It's an organization dedicated to caring for adults with Autism. It runs eight group home and two activity day programs, but keeping them up and running has been a challenge.

"We've had a lot of disappointments with fundraising," said Phillips.

Recently, though an opportunity appeared. Local non-profit Apparo and its corporate sponsor, technology services company Accenture, were offering a major technology award.

"They've taken not a new technology, but an existing one and applied it in a new way," said James Mitchell of Accenture.

"It was just so inventive it was such a great use of the tool," said Apparo's executive director Tom Walsh.

The tool was an iPad. ASMC's use of them was providing breakthroughs for its autistic clients. Apparo was so impressed it honored the organization with its "Technology Innovation Award" Saturday night.

"We're very excited," said Phillips.

ASMC will be getting 10 news iPads to use in the group homes and day programs.

"It's going to have a huge impact on the population we serve," said ASMC speech and language pathologist Janice Scerri Hopper.

The ipads are giving those who can't speak the ability to have a conversation. Apps also allow clients to learn life management skills, like keeping track of time, ordering food, even banking.

"The applications will help this population become so much more independent," said Scerri Hopper.

"It's amazing to see the breakthrough that it provides," said Apparo's Walsh.

Apparo is an organization that links IT professionals, willing to volunteer, with non-profits in need of IT services and tech help. (Click here to learn more about volunteering with Apparo) The non-profit recently changed its name from N-Power Charlotte Region, but its mission remains the same.

"We want to get them (IT professionals) engaged and plugged in," said Walsh. "They can be the hope inside a non-profit organization."

In the case of the Technology Innovation Award it was an entire company, Accenture that stepped up.

"The work that Apparo does and now teaming up with ASMC to see what they are doing it's exciting to see tech being used to help people," said Mitchell. "The non-profit world hasn't benefited as much from technology as the business community. We want to promote technology being used in the non-profit world."

There is no doubt this award will go along way to helping quite a few people.

"I think it will be a real morale boost," said Phillips. "Not just for the people using them, but to the agency as a whole. Hey, we're a winner."

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