With offices in West Tisbury the Island Autism Group, Inc., IAG, is a well-established non-profit corporation tax exempt under Section 501(c)(3), that has been serving autistic children and their families, as well as providing services and resources to the local school systems, on Martha’s Vineyard for many years. IAG was founded in 2008 by Kate DeVane and Marcy Bettencourt, both mothers of young sons with autism. Since its inception, IAG has helped autistic children on the Island access extracurricular programs and equipment necessary and beneficial for their development. We support local children and families living with autism by providing numerous resources. IAG works closely with teachers, therapists, parents and friends interested in supporting those with autism.
The purpose of the Island Autism Group, Inc. is to fund comprehensive therapeutic services, activities and programs, hard goods and equipment for educational growth and development of children with autism to further integrate them into society. The group also funds seminars, speakers, and workshops that advance and educate parents, teachers, and caregivers of children who do not fully participate in inclusive programs due to their disabilities.
Imagine an Island Autism Center
Over several years the Island Autism Group has developed its vision of an Island Autism Center, a place on Martha’s Vineyard where children and adults with autism and their families can come for summer camp, respite, education, seminars, therapies, and to spend essential time together as a family.
IAG envisions a place where those with autism could enjoy therapeutic riding, arts and crafts, gardening, and other activities not only in the summer months but also year round through afterschool programming and weekend workshops. A place where parents could meet other parents, share resources, and learn about various therapies and trends in the field.
With the essential support and the accepting spirit of the Island community, the Island Autism Center would be a place for collaboration and cooperation. The Island Autism Center would provide social, physical, and emotional benefits for the Island’s autistic population without having to go off the Island for other programs that may serve this purpose. Island children and their parents could be confident that they will stay together.
For details, please refer to the plan for the Island Autism Center.
How we began
The Island Autism Group (IAG), was originally founded by the mothers of two boys with autism. The boys attended the Project Headway preschool on Martha’s Vineyard. The first efforts were fundraisers to augment the existing programs on the Island. From humble beginnings and with help from teachers, therapists, friends, and other parents, the small group has developed into its own nonprofit. Our purpose is to support children from the Island and their families as they live their lives with autism.
IAG does not have one viewpoint on how to approach autism. Instead we are constantly in discussion about how to approach each individual’s autism and each family’s situation. We believe that sharing our collective knowledge gives each of us the power to enrich the lives of people with autism. IAG provides music for preschoolers, therapeutic riding, sensory camp, equipment for sensory therapy, and iPads and other essential technology for children on the spectrum.
We continue to evolve and reconfigure our vision. We have dreams of developing an Island Autism Center where families will come and visit the Island and meet other families. Children with autism could learn to swim, ride, paint, and plant. Their siblings could meet. Their mothers and fathers could meet and learn about diet, iPads, approaches to daily living and living full, happy lives with autism. We have accomplished a lot and we realize that much of this is far off in the future, but we keep growing and are confident we will realize these dreams.