The impact of autism on families

One in 58 children have autism and the number of cases – and need for support services – continues to grow said Mike Jarman during Harrisburg Rotary President J. Stephen Feinour and Mike Jarman.his talk at the Jan. 23 meeting of the Rotary Club of Harrisburg.

Jarman initially was working as an attorney as he and his wife struggled to find good programs and help for their two autistic sons, who are now adults. As a parent of two daughters as well, a challenging situation was made worse when his boys were young in the late 90s because there weren’t too many options, he said.

He discovered the Vista program that used proven techniques to help children with autism and began teaching classes out of his home for his kids and two other children. Interest in the program grew and in 2002 Jarman and a group of parents founded The Vista School in Hershey. He and the other founders were literally going into debt to fund the school until in 2002 it received private school status from the Pennsylvania Department of Education.

Today, Jarman is the chief strategic officer and general counsel for Vista, which is serving more than 100 children and more than 20 adults – all at no cost to parents. In the coming year, the school is looking to open a class serving infants up to 3 years of age.

Pictured from left to right:  Mike Jarman and Steve, Feinour, President.

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