Giving Tuesday: Impact Autism

What happens when children with autism grow up?
*Many will continue to need a 24-hour caregiver to be safe.
*Many will age out of support services as if their needs have magically disappeared.
*While they are aging out of services, their parents/caregivers are also aging.
*They are no longer accepted as having a so-called “childhood illness.”
*They become adults with autism and the world is not completely ready for them. Many parents and professionals will admit that “we are making it as we go.”
Cruising with Autism, Inc. is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit charity and our mission is to provide autism-friendly activities to families raising a child or adult living with autism. Remember us on #GivingTuesday by making a donation of any amount at bit.ly/autismis and share this post with others. Thank you for your continued support. #GivingTuesday #impactautism #autism #autismis #donate #nonprofit

Autism Cruise 2017

Autism Cruise® 2017

Families raising a child or adult with autism can experience feeling constantly overwhelmed; isolated from their family, friends, community, place of worship, etc.; mentally stressed out; financial hardships; physically exhausted; strained/broken relationships; guilt; depression, and so many other factors that can affect their household and lifestyle.  Autism Cruises® takes the family out of their environment so that they can enjoy themselves, be in the company of other families and caregivers who understand their daily concerns, and where the entire family can experience a respite.

DayPortArrival TimeDeparture Time
SundayPort Canaveral, FL4:00 pm
MondayFreeport, Bahamas8:00 am5:00 pm
TuesdayNassau, Bahamas8:00 am5:00 pm
WednesdayDay at Sea
ThursdayPort Canaveral, FL

 

If you know anyone who is interested in joining this cruise as an autism family or if you would like to support by sponsoring a family or by sailing with us (yes, everyone is invited), contact us at info@cruisingwithautism.org or donate by using the button below.  All proceeds go towards sponsoring an autism family.  All donations/gifts are tax deductible.

Meet One of Our Cruisers

Meet Julian!!! Julian was one of the participants on our cruise in June 2016. He is 12 years old and is on the autism spectrum. Julian was accompanied by his mother and aunt. He had a great time meeting new friends, swimming, enjoying a character breakfast, and indulging in many of the activities that a cruise has to offer. The cruise provided Julian an opportunity to enjoy a routine-free week with his family and new friends. Routines are a coping mechanism for many autism families; however, they can cause stress and anxiety in the household. A cruise vacation can be a relaxing and bonding experience for the entire family. We are working hard to make this happen for more families in 2017. If you would like to receive information about our cruise in 2017, please complete the following pre-application: http://bit.ly/autismcruise2017
If you’re interested in sponsoring an autism family, your donation is tax-deductible and any amount is appreciated.

We Are Now Booking Impact Travel

We are excited to announce that we are now booking Impact Travel!!!  What does that mean to you?  By booking YOUR individual or group vacation experience with us, all the proceeds from your vacation will go towards funding an autism family future cruise experience.  This is an awesome fundraising opportunity for us and all those families that we plan to serve!  We have listed several group vacations at http://www.cruisingwithautism.org that you can book with us as well as take advantage of our group rates and amenities.  We can also customize any individual or group / land or sea vacation package.  Our travel agents are trained and experienced in various travel destinations and all of the major cruise lines. Remember, by booking YOUR vacation with us, you will be making an impact on an autism family by providing them with a much-needed vacation experience.  Let’s make an IMPACT and get started at bit.ly/impact-travel

Hello August

I can’t believe that it’s August 1st! Where has the summer gone? Well, I’m not going to cry over spilt milk! No should have, could have, would have… No! August is the 8th Month, and the number 8 represents New Beginnings. I welcome the month of August! I welcome new beginnings! I have set goals for my son, business, non-profit, health/fitness, spiritual, and future. One of the first things that I did this morning, was took the time to write my goals down in my prayer journal. Not only do I need to write down my goals (vision), I must also make sure that my goals are SMART goals. Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic/Relative and Time Based. To stay on track, I am going to have to stay FOCUSED!

Now is the time to write down those goals. Life gets busy! I don’t have to remind you that in a couple of weeks, summer will be over, school will start, the holiday season will be upon, etc. Today, let’s focus on those things that we need to accomplish by the end of the month, quarter and year and let’s make them happen! I’m not going to live my life as if I will have another chance. I have everything that I need to make things work today! I just have to focus and put my vision into action!

You have everything that you need to make things work for you today! Focus and put your vision into action! Let’s be intentional in getting our goals accomplished!

Hello AUGUST!!!

Stress-Less Autism Parenting

With having a child on the autism spectrum, many of us come to the realization that we have a child or children that will never “grow up.” Some of these children will always require direct assistance, whereas some will require minimal assistance, and others will be able to live independently.  Whether you’re parenting as a couple or as a single person, the diagnosis changes your life forever. Your life takes on a whole new path. You sometimes have to take on characteristics outside of your personality.

This is always an uphill battle, whether it’s with the school system, daycare provider, insurance company, physicians, etc. The majority of the time, you are in a battle with someone who does not totally understand your plight because they lack true empathy. Many may have good intentions or feel they are doing what’s best for you and your child, but they can’t totally understand your battle.

The following are some of the realizations you have to come to in order to joyfully parent a child with autism:

  1. It’s not the end of the world. You received your child’s diagnosis; do what you need to do to make peace with it. When you are at peace, you will be able to accept it and move forward.
  1. You had dreams, goals, and aspirations prior to the diagnosis. Don’t dare give up on you! Find a way to continue to pursue those dreams, goals, and aspirations.
  1. Become the subject matter expert when it comes to your child. This doesn’t have to be overwhelming. Some of this knowledge will come from your research; however, the majority of your knowledge will come from experience.  Simply know your child better than anyone does and have your child’s best interest at heart.  Don’t allow anyone to categorize your child based on your child’s diagnosis.  Every child on the autism spectrum is different, and each has their own strengths and weaknesses.  Make sure you encourage those strengths and help develop those areas he or she is weak in.
  1. Know that your life, home, and family doesn’t have to look like anyone else’s. Don’t try to fit in!  The missing puzzle piece that symbolizes autism, it’s really not missing; it’s a little displaced.  Being a little out of place is fine.  Everyone will feel displaced at a point in their life.
  1. Don’t seclude your child and family from life. Excluding your child or your family from experiencing life is a disservice to your child, your family, and the world.  We teach the world how to treat our children by the way we treat our children.  People need to know about autism, and we should welcome their questions.  This encourages acceptance and awareness which will open opportunities for spectrum-friendly activities and events.  By all means, allow your child to enjoy life!
  1. Keep a journal chronicling different things about your child, especially if your child is nonverbal. Include in the journal a list of your child’s strengths and the things your child enjoys.  Also, include a list of things your child doesn’t like and those things they need assistance with.  Life gets busy, and we forget about some of the things that bring joy to our child and those things they don’t like.  Not only do we need to remind ourselves from time to time of some of the characteristics of our child, but we also need to keep a record for someone else to follow if we are unable to be there for our child.  This is an ongoing process which we should keep current.  I find it helpful to schedule a monthly date on my calendar to update this list.
  1. Become your child’s advocate. The first step of being an advocate is showing up!  We have to make sure we show up for our child in their school meetings and classroom, in the community, and anywhere they need our voice, protection, and support.
  1. Realize that “no” really means “not now,” so don’t give up. Parents of children with any type of disability know that we struggle with making sure that the child and the family receive the services and support that’s needed to make sure they thrive.  If you’re denied a service or support that you know will benefit your child or your family, don’t take no for a final answer.  Be persistent and it will eventually happen.
  1. Accept your child as they are, unapologetically! God made your child, and I truly believe that God does not make any mistakes. We must have faith in his plan for our life.
  1. Have fun! There are so many days that you will cry, feel sad, worry about the future, and feel like a failure, and you will simply get exhausted. Make sure you enjoy your child and your family, and live life to the fullest!

Dream! Love! Laugh! Be UnSTOPPABLE!

 

Sponsorship Proposal: There’s a Star Inside of You Cruise

Executive Summary
Cruising with Autism is a nonprofit organization providing cruise and resort vacations to children, teenagers and young adults with autism and related disabilities in Jacksonville, Florida area. Cruising with Autism, Inc. focuses its services especially on teenagers and young adults with autism due to a lack of organized programs for this age group. The age group of fourteen and older (14+) have the least amount of recreational programs because they are beginning to transition out of the school system and entering into adulthood. Therefore, less attention is given to this population; however, because of their disability, not providing activities for them can cause them to feel isolated.

When teenagers and young adults with autism are not provided with recreational and social activities to keep them involved in their communities, this can be detrimental to the person with autism as well as their family. We don’t want families and communities to lose faith in the possibilities that await them if they are provided opportunities to be active and accepted in their communities. To accomplish this goal, teenagers and young adults with autism must be fostered in an environment that promotes and reinforces interesting and fun opportunities.

Cruising with Autism, Inc. provides programs that is in direct response to the growing number of young people that have been diagnosed with autism are beginning to transition to adulthood. The goal of the program is to identify those who are not active in their communities and provide activities that can enhance their lives. By enhancing the lives of those with autism and similar disabilities, we empower them, their families and our communities.
Cruising with Autism will focus primarily on middle school, high school, in day programs, and at home. The State of Florida is home to more than 200,000 individuals living with autism and related disability. (U.S. Census 2012). In Jacksonville, 8.4% percent of the population under the age of 65 years old are living with a disability.
Cruising with Autism will provide recreational programs for the teenagers and young adults with autism and training sessions for families to include legal, recreational and health-related topics, at least one event per month. There will be at least two travel opportunities, a cruise vacation and a resort vacation for the teenagers and young adults to be taken with their family and or guardian(s).

About the Organization
Cruising with Autism, Inc. is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization whose headquarters is located in Jacksonville, Florida. Its mission is to enrich the lives of under-served teens and young adults living with autism by affording them opportunity to participate in recreational activities while addressing the specific needs of the spectrum teen/adult and his/her family or guardian.
The teenage and young adult years can be a very difficult time for families with an autism family member, and it can also be the beginning for some tough decision making. It is our goal to promote the travel experience and to help alleviate some of the day to day stress, by briefly taking the family out of their environment so that they can experience a bonding period. We strongly believe that everyone is entitled to an enjoyable travel experience.

Event Details
Our Inaugural Cruise will take place on June 23 – 27, 2016. We plan to take 10+ children, teenagers and/or adults living with autism on a 4-day cruise aboard the Carnival Elation departing from Jacksonville, Florida and ports of call at Nassau and Freeport in the Bahamas.
We will have planned activities and events for each person with autism that includes island tours, excursions, onboard ship activities, as well as having volunteers to provide the family members with a respite period.
Many families that have cruised with their child living with autism have reported the experience as relaxing, fun, and overall pleasant experience. However, many families caring for a child with autism find it hard to afford a family vacation due to the expenses of caring with a family member with autism. Many parents, especially single parents are concerned that vacationing alone with their child with autism will be too stressful for the parent and family. Providing respite care and caregivers that are familiar with caring for a child with autism offers a greater chance for the family to have a more enjoyable vacation experience.

About the Founder
Meochia Clayton was born and raised in Hampstead, North Carolina. After graduating from high school, she left home to pursue a college degree and later relocated to metropolitan Washington, D.C. area where she continued to pursue her college education and started working for the Federal Government. She graduated from the University of Maryland College Park with a B.S. degree in Government and Politics. She earned a M.S. degree in Special Education Law from the Nova Southeastern University in Fort Lauderdale, FL.

After living in the Washington, DC area for 20 years, she took a transfer on her federal government job and moved to Jacksonville, Florida in 2008 with her son Terrance (TJ), where she currently reside. She started a travel career in 2010, as a result of her love for travel, particularly to the Caribbean. She has been awarded several travel certifications including Accredited Counsellor (ACC), Special Needs Group Certified Accessible Travel Advocate, Special Needs Advocate, and currently training as an advocate for Partners in Policymaking for the Florida Developmental Disabilities Council, Inc.

In addition to running her own travel agency, Meochia is also giving back through the efforts of a non-profit organization that she founded in 2014, Cruising with Autism, Inc. As a parent to a son with autism coupled with her love of travel, her organization is working to provide cruise, resort, and various recreational activities to children, teenagers, and young adults living with autism and similar disabilities to be taken with their family. She has recently co-authored a best-selling book, Her Chronicles: Stories of Faith, Fear, and Fortitude, which she chronicles the day of her son’s traumatic birth to their lives today.

Demographic Reach
Jacksonville’s current population is 821,784 (www.suburbanstats.org). Of this number, 60,061 people under the age of 65 are living with a disability. This demographic information demonstrates the need for the services provided by Cruising for Autism, Inc.
With your support, children, (3-12), teenagers (13-19) and young adults (20-35) along with their families and caregivers/guardians will have the opportunity to experience a vacation without the worry/concern of challenges while traveling.

Cruising with Autism, Inc. in the News
Cruising with Autism was featured in the October 20, 2015 Impact Edition of The Huffington Post: Cruising with Autism in Jacksonville, FL. Meochia Clayton is the founder and Executive Director of Cruising with Autism, Inc. in Jacksonville, Florida. Meochia provides the families of autistic teens and young adults with opportunities to travel new places in their communities. Additionally, Meochia regularly organizes social gatherings, family information sessions, and autism awareness with the goal of creating public awareness of the huge diversity within this community.   The Huffington Post

Sponsorship Information:

  • Platinum Autism Star (5) $3500
    As a Platinum Autism Star, you will be sponsoring a complete cruise package for a child, teenager or an adult living with autism. The complete cruise package includes full cruise fare, vacation protection insurance coverage, and onboard gratuities.

Benefits:
• Company Name/Logo on Main Stage Backdrop (backdrop will be used at Pre-Cruise events, at Cruise Departure and Post Cruise events)
• Logo, link and company description on Website
• Mentioned in 20 tweets per week
• Mentioned in 2 press releases per quarter
• Company literature in Cruise Welcome Aboard bags

  • Gold Autism Star (10) $600
    As a Gold Autism Star, you will be sponsoring a cruise vacation for a child, teenager, or an adult living with autism which includes: Full cruise fare.

Benefits:
• Logo & Link on Website
• Mentioned in 15 tweets per week
• Mentioned in 1 press release per quarter
• Company literature in Cruise Welcome Aboard bags

  • Silver Autism Star (10) $150
    As a Silver Autism Star, you will be sponsoring Cruise Vacation Protection Insurance Coverage for a child, teenager, or an adult living with autism.

Benefits
• Mentioned in 10 tweets per week
• Mentioned in 1 press release per quarter
• Company literature in Cruise Welcome Aboard bags

  • Bronze Autism Star (10) $75
    As a Bronze Autism Star, you will be sponsoring an Excursion (Atlantis or a Bahamas National Park Tour) for a child, teenager, or an adult living with autism.

Benefits:
• Mentioned in 5 tweets per week.
• Company literature in Cruise Welcome Aboard bags

Facebook 1,100 followers Twitter 1,717 followers

Sponsorship Form

Mock Legislative Testimony

My name is Meochia Clayton and I have lived in Jacksonville, Florida in Duval County since 2008.  I am a single parent to my son Terrance who recently turned 20 years old.  He is non-verbal and relies on me to provide all of his personal care needs.  Prior to moving to Florida, we lived in the Washington, D.C. area.  Once we moved to Florida, my son lost his Medicaid-Waiver services and we have been on the Florida waiting list since 2008.

My greatest fear is that something will happen to me and I will no longer be able to provide him with the care that he needs.  When you carry that much responsibility, sleepless nights become the norm.  If I am unable to work the job that I have been working for almost 18 years, I really don’t know what would happen.  Having free time is almost impossible because it’s really hard to find responsible care at reasonable rates.  Having the Medicaid-Waiver services could give me the chance to go to the gym, go to a community event, or just have “me” time to take a breather.

There are 10 teenagers / young adults diagnosed with  a developmental disability in my son’s classroom,  of which 3 of them live in a group home.  I am not sure of the circumstances why they are in a group home, which I feel that they are too young to be separated from their families.  They are at the age where they should still be in a nurturing home environment.  When I first found out that one of the boys was in a group home, I cried all the way to my job.  I later found out hat the are 3 boys living in a group home.  That’s not the life that I want for my son while he is attending school, he is too young to be away from the family home.  Therefore, I am asking that you increase the budget that funds the Medicaid-Waiver services.  Provide the parents that are willing to care for their severely disabled child with the assistance that they need so the child/adult can stay in the family home as long as possible.

The current budget is $950,000,000, we are asking for an additional $21,000,000 to further assist persons with disabilities to receive services from the Medicaid-Waiver.

Please consider that it minimally costs $35,000 a year to have someone in a group home or a similar facility.  If you supported the Medicaid-Waiver with more funds that cost could practically save one-third, at $12,000 a year while living at home and having the advantage of living their fullest potential while living with their family.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

I delivered this Mock Testimony as a participant in Partners in Policymaking of the Florida Developmental Disabilities Council, Inc. on 12/05/2015. — Meochia Clayton

There’s A Star Inside of You Benefit Cruise

Join Cruising with Autism, Inc. on June 23, 2016 for a 4 Day Cruise aboard the Carnival Elation

 

4 Day Cruise Aboard the Carnival Elation - Sail Date: April 27, 2017

DayPort of CallArrival TimeDepart Time
ThursdayJacksonville, FL4:00 pm
FridayFreeport, Bahamas12:00 pm7:00 pm
SaturdayNassau, Bahamas8:00 am5:00 pm
SundayFun Day at Sea
MondayJacksonville, FL8:00 am

Things to Do:

Onboard Activities: Stage Shows, Hasbro, The Game Show, The Punchliner Comedy Show, Camp Carnival, Seuss at Sea, Piano Bar, Serenity Adult-Only Retreat, Spa Carnival, and Twister Water Slide.

Dining & Activities: Lido Restaurant, Seaday Brunch, The Chef’s Table, Green Eggs and Ham Breakfast, Mongolian Wok, Kids’ Menu, Coffee Bar, Dining Room, and Taste Bar.

Freeport: Freeport Kayak & Nature Experience, Dolphin Close Encounter, Wester Heritage & Snorkel Tour, Family Beach Escape, Beach Getaway with Open Bar, All-Inclusive Beach Getaway, All-Inclusive Reef Snorkel Beach Break & Shopping, etc.

Nassau: Catamaran Sail & Snorkel, Sea & See Tour, Atlantis Aquaventure Full Day with Lunch, Promo-Private Island, Graycliff Chocolatier – The Art of Chocolate Making, Straw Market, etc.

Note:  Day Trips/Excursions are available, contact us for more information.

CategoryType StateroomRates
Interior4B$536.91
Interior4C$541.91
Ocean view6B$586.91
Ocean view6C$596.91
Ocean view6D$616.91

Rates are based on double occupancy and per person. The type stateroom determines the cabin location on the ship.

Suites, as well as single and triple occupancy is available, contact us for rates.  Note:  Triple rates:  starting $468.16 per person; Quad rates:  $436.29 per person and five in one room: $417.16 per person.  (Must be booked early, when booked closer to the due date, subject to availability).

Payment Plan:

$100.00 per person is due at booking to hold your cabin.

$150.00 per person is due by 02/15/2016

Final Balance is due by 04/15/2016

Passport is not required; however, Highly Recommended.

Vacation Protection coverage is Not Included; however, Highly Recommended.

Book at: BOOK NOW

Cancellation Policy:  $150 per person 04/20/2016,  50% per person 05/05/2016 and Full Penalty 06/01/2016

This is a “Benefit” cruise and ALL  Commissions/Incentives will go towards funding the cruise payment for a child, teenager or adult with autism or a related disability.

We are licensed and bonded with the State of Florida.  Registered with the State of Florida as a Seller of Travel.  Registration No. ST39800

Thank you so much for booking and we appreciate your support.  — Cruising with Autism, Inc., a non-profit organization.

Contact Ms. Clayton at info@cruisingwithautism.org or 904-805-2336 for additional details and questions.
Book

Interested or know someone that is may sponsor a person with autism, please share the following link:  Sponsorship Package

#GivingTuesday

On Tuesday, December 1, 2015, Cruising with Autism, Inc. will participate in #GivingTuesday, a global day dedicated to giving back. It has been set aside for the world to come together for one common purpose: to give thanks to celebrate generosity and to give.

Cruising with Autism, Inc. Joins the National #GivingTuesday Movement to Encourage Spending with A Purpose.

Pledges to Support Our Campaign #AUTISMIS

Coinciding with the Thanksgiving Holiday and the kickoff of the holiday shopping season, #GivingTuesday will inspire people to take collaborative action to improve their local communities, give back in better, smarter ways to the charities and causes they support and help create a better world.

Ways to Give this #GivingTuesday

On #GivingTuesday, Cruising with Autism is raising awareness and funds for its campaign #AUTISMIS – which will fund at least 10 children/teens/adults with autism to take a group cruise on June 23, 2016 and for monthly community informational sessions to provide support to families with a family member living with autism.

Thank you for giving to our #AUTISMIS campaign, your generosity on #GIVINGTUESDAY will help many children, teenagers, and adults with autism.





If you prefer to mail your contribution, please send to Cruising with Autism, Inc., 3545 St. Johns Bluff Road So, #123, Jacksonville, FL 32224

If you have any questions, please contact info@cruisingwithautism.org

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