Little Friends expands programming & facilities

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Mike Briggs, President/CEO of Little Friends, stopped by Spotlight to talk about some of the new and exciting things going on with the organization, including the expansion of programs and facilities that will ultimately help further their mission of “empowering people of all ages experiencing autism, intellectual and emotional disabilities, and their families to live, learn, work, and thrive in their communities.”

Awake Labs pilot study

Briggs spoke about the Awake Labs pilot study that the organization is currently a part of. The program uses a smart watch and app to monitor biomarkers for children.  The hope is to capture signals that indicate a child is becoming dysregulated and tell the caregiver with data to intervene BEFORE behavior becomes potentially aggressive. The technology has previously been used  with adults, but never with children. Little Friends is proud to be the pilot program for children in the United State and is hopeful families will gain another tool that will help them support their care teams and improve their children’s independence and quality of life.

Designation of the Dan Casey Activity Center

Briggs mentioned that Little Friends recently announced that the new adult programming facility in Warrenville, will be named the Dan Casey Activity Center. Dan Casey was a longtime supporter of Little Friends.  Dan was involved with the organization for over 15 years. He served on the Board of Directors, with four of those years being as Chairman. Little Friends said this about the new facility on their website, “We want to recognize Dan’s contributions and ensure his support remains a legacy, with the activity center appropriately named in his honor.”

The project is currently underway, and the facility is projected to open later this year.

What is Little Friends?

Little Friends guides families through supports, services, and educational programs offered to those with autism and other developmental disabilities.  This comprehensive set of programs helps individuals starting as early as three years old through end of life.

The organization was founded in 1965, when teachers, parents and advocates began a school for children with special needs.  Since then, Little Friends has grown to become a multi-faceted human services agency able to employ more than 400 people providing services for children and adults with autism, intellectual and developmental disabilities, and social emotional needs.

Today, Little Friends services include educational and vocational training programs, community-based residential living, a clinic for autism support, and respite family services.  Over a year, they will work with over 900 children and adults in various capacities providing services to help individuals of all ages, abilities, and backgrounds.