In 2018, we are still on track to complete our current 2012-2021 ten year mission plan. That plan was reviewed and approved by our corporate board of directors and its officers in 2011. It was also decided that for our 20th Anniversary, on February 14, 2012, our name would change from THRESHOLD to The Understanding Autism Organization in line with our www.understandingautism.orgwebsite . In 2012, Dr. Sharone Lee, our CEO/Executive Director, was on a track to complete her very long course of mission-related studies in the fields of Visual Communications Design, organizational leadership and human relations, cognitive-developmental models of best Autism practices, Developmental Research Psychology, Human Development and Parent Education, and Human and Organizational Systems by 2013. Her research and practice across these fields has focused on and exclusively served to support our last twenty-five years of NPO operations and charitable activities. To date, we have completed all but two steps of all of our mission plans--realizing our hopes held in each goal in smaller and larger ways in the face of our living, working, surviving, and coping in profound able loss together. (See < Organizational Profile > Sharone Lee)
Sharone's volunteer efforts have let us pursue a quarter century of mission goals to provide: 1) best developmental practice model programs for children with Autism in Salem, Oregon--in hopes of developing a generation of Autism peer guides who are able to help each other, 2) public, private, and home school provider trainings held across the PNW--in hopes of developing a training alum network of best Autism practitioners and parenting peer mentors, 3) information for the general public with outreach to Autism community families at the point of diagnosis and other times of crises by providing a sound base of life-spanning information about the Autism Spectrum. This was done first in print through ongoing collaboration with two other Oregon charitable NPO's, The Autism Society of Oregon and The Center for the Study of Autism, and then online globally under our former name THRESHOLD--in hopes of building a truly cooperative network of public and private Autism resource information, and 4) web access to a comprehensive Autism information mapping matrix with a live 24/7 parent and provider phone support line available--all in hopes of creating an ever better understanding of Autism and its mutual impacts on us all. (See < The Trail Behind Us)
Moving on from hard won success and valued lessons learned in our first (1992-2001) and second (2002-2011) NPO charitable mission plans, we have been wrapping up all those projects in good form since 2012, while pursuing our third decade's plan (2012-2021) goals: In 2012, we first gathered together to look at our past achievements and to celebrate our 20th anniversary as an Oregon NPO. Then, we worked together to close the last of our direct contact programs for young people with Autism by the end of that year, while still providing all our students and families with transitional consultation services until our last alum student reached adulthood in March of 2017, thus meeting our long standing commitment to support all of our alum with life spanning consulting services as they may need. That help is still available on request through our volunteer alum connect in Oregon. (See< Contact Us)
In 2013, our model program site and corporate office located in Salem, Oregon began to be carefully inventoried, packaged, and labeled by our volunteer program alum teams of people with and without Autism. This kind of work, change, and loss was difficult for us all and especially so for our alum students with more severe Autism. Yet, our slow and methodical preparation process and structured work systems not only eased the way forward, it let us all learn new ways to help people with Autism smoothly transition during big moves and life changes. We captured those activities and strategies in detailed visual field work records that we are analyzing and preparing to be shared with the world through future training events locally and in new online projects globally. This is an elegant example of how our peace-able mission work in loss has been able to "feed more than two birds with one hand".
From 2014-2016, our volunteer program alum teams of people with and without Autism helped with professional repairs of our beloved and well-worn THRESHOLD model program site in Salem, Oregon in order to gain new vocational skills by preparing it for sale. Over this time, we also moved our huge resource base of adaptive training materials and office supplies and equipment, box by box, out into nearby storage units in labelled order so we could still access them when needed. Our alum with both more severe to mild Autism showed great pride in and strong feelings about taking on their well-matched adult work roles of giving back to the organization that had provided their programs as young children, teens, and adults. We all truly appreciated how this methodical process brought about a sense of full and authentic closure for us all, in the hope of avoiding real risks of lingering "what happened" questions or mutual misunderstandings during major transitions, which can often sabotage well laid typical plans for successful big moves by people with Autism. In the end, everyone was actually eager to move on.
At this same time, we had to adapt plans to relocate our corporate offices and a mobile training unit planned to be nearby in Salem, but which was no longer workable at the time of our move. Thankfully, a long term board member offered a venue for our ongoing charitable NPO operation in Portland, Oregon. This new main corporate office locale allows us to continue our long-running mission of online outreach in closer proximity to volunteer technical advisors at small cost to us. That good luck improved on previous plans by providing a more stable and positive work environment for our "virtual Autism resources" project development on a doable budget--always a good thing for a small chariable NPO. (See Our Path Ahead)
From 2013-present, in preparation for a series of long-planned relocations of our office and best practices model sites that had been in Salem, Oregon since 1992, we began to stage and photograph all our program materials as displays as references to restage our new site. This new practices research would be usable for later training purposes to help people with and without Autism manage moves by using objective information to retain learning across time and space while also creating visually rich lifestyles that are mutually enjoyable and sustainable. The outcome of the research is wonderful in its contrast to the usual stark and dire living situation for adults with more severe Autism as they age and lose family. In that effort, we have banked over 25K images to date, with much more to come. We also began to record and organize practical video files of the actual use of pivotal items in our voluminous stores of 25 years of educational, vocational, residential, and recreational skill training materials designed for use by our alum volunteers on site and our Autism information project team online. Once we have preserved their highest long term practical value in such media files we can start reducing our long term storage costs. In this process, these materials are then, also being made ready for 1) donation to other public or private NPO that may need and use them for educational or other charitable purposes, 2) sale to cover our NPO research project costs, 3) disposal of if not in any use-able condition due to wear and tear, or 4) our protection in long term storage for future demonstration purposes online, on site, or on the road in less served rural areas in the PNW. This visual archive will then be cataloged for our future charitable purposes long term. When that mission legacy project is completed in Oregon and our new model site is up and running in Washington we will be able to move on to our next ten year mission to research ways to lower costs of life spanning Autism programs while improving their outcomes through innovations in "old" and new school resource demonstrations, life spanning architectural prosthetics, mutually adaptable media, and AI technologies. Cool.
From late 2015 to early 2016, we initiated launch mode for our other remaining mission plan goal of an expansion into Washington state, where we are developing plans
for a best Autism practices demonstration site and materials research
lab. In pursuit of that goal, our base of materials was moved to
storage in Bellingham, WA near our new interim model site development
office in the Blaine, WA where it is being photographed to produce a
visual information bank in the cloud, which, along with our library of
written research work, will be available for application by our online
media project volunteers working through our main corporate office in
Oregon. We hope to be in our new space within a private adaptive
residential model site in Washington by the end of our current ten year
mission plan in 2021. That will let live streaming demonstrations of those materials be
view-able globally online as well, as a part of our Oregon office's media hub. At that point our main office will be located in the state that has proven the most substantial and productive in relation to our next ten year mission.
Because this "two-state" test lab solution is a first primarily a virtual-in-the-air office in Oregon while we build our next
in-house endeavor both projects have been designed to be more sustainable than our
past all on-the-ground mission goals could ever be. Yet, it will represent an enduring harvest from three decades past that will have made this new and innovative path
possible. So all that has been given will be not be saved and still serve our
charitable mission as we move on in loss.
So our good news in loss in 2018, is that we are posed to reach our next ten year mission mark in 2021 by achieving two big goals that will open the way for our next, and likely Sharone's final, leg of our NPO's (2022-2031) ten year mission vision path to support the Autism community with readily available online resources for providers of life-spanning best developmental Autism practice programs at a cost that our families and service sectors can afford in years to come. We believe this will realize our shared charitable charge in full.
So stay tuned for news as we pursue and approach our remaining goal lines for 2021.