It may have been cold outside last Thursday, but the temperature and atmosphere at the Greater Irondale Chamber of Commerce November luncheon was warm, welcoming, and heart-warming!

room

The Chamber was pleased to host Sandy Naramore, Executive Director of Mitchell’s Place, as our guest speaker.  Sandy started by asking a couple of questions, including how many in the room had been directly impacted by an individual with Autism Spectrum Disorders or behavioral developmental disabilities.  Not surprisingly, half those present raised their hands.  We learned a few unexpected things about Mitchell’s Place.  For example, MP must raise over a half million dollars annually to keep tuition anywhere near manageable for families and their insurance companies.  Several families travel hours to bring their students to attend school at MP every day.

Additionally, the educational program at MP is twelve months long, not the typical nine months of other schools.  Second, their “teach me” program includes “typical peers” children without disabilities who attend classes there alongside children with learning challenges.  This helps both groups of children learn to communicate and assimilate with those different from them.  Third, we learned that it is not too early and never too late to diagnose and receive treatment for individuals with these developmental and social disabilities. The standard is usually at two years of age, but in some cases, 18 months is even better. Finally, Sandy told everyone that MP may specialize in Autism Spectrum Disorder, but they also work with children with other behavioral disabilities.

For more information visit their website.  If you would like to contribute to the amazing efforts at Mitchell’s Place, click here.

toysforirondale

The Chamber was also pleased to collect new, unwrapped toys for the Exchange Club‘s “Christmas in Irondale” charity effort.  You can still make donations of toys, clothing, and nonperishable food to one of their boxes at area banks and city buildings.  Click here to find out more, including sending tax-deductible money donations.

We’ll see you again in January!