A local woman wants to bring more awareness to children on the autism spectrum.

Reggie Mourning has coordinated with the St. Maries Fire Protection District and the Panhandle Autism Society to host a parent and caregiver autism support group that is open to the public.

Mrs. Mourning said that the process started when she was searching for support for her son, Dylan. She said that she wanted to help others recognize the behavioral signs of autism and have a resource to ask questions and get support.

“My son was diagnosed four going on five years ago,” Mrs. Mourning said. “We got referrals to see different doctors. We just recognized that there wasn’t many resources here (in St. Maries) to get support.”

She said when she looked for ways to get support for her son that she saw Coeur d’Alene and Spokane hosted a variety of events and groups related to autism support.

Mrs. Mourning said she approached Idaho Panhandle Health who helped her get together the resources to plan a support group in the area.

“One day I came across the Panhandle Autism Society and they said ‘would you like to be on the board and form a group in St. Maries?’” Mrs. Mourning said. “I said we need this, and we got chartered in, we got the insurance and everything you need to put on this sort of thing.”

She said a better understanding can help people know how children and adults with autism could potentially behave and how to be a helping hand in the community.

“I have friends that know Dylan and they even Googled it to get a better understanding to why he may act out when they would spend time with us,” Mrs. Mourning said. “I thought if they wanted to put in the effort to understand maybe other people would too.”

Mrs. Mourning said that she hopes people from around the community will come to the support group and that she wants people, even those who don’t have kids on the spectrum, to have a better understanding of autism. She said that those who seek advice or want to share their stories are invited.

“I started to meet other parents who were dealing with this,” Mrs. Mourning said. “St. Maries has a lot of children who are on the spectrum. This group is for anybody that is intrigued or wants to know about the children or even adults with autism.”

Mrs. Mourning said that the events first guest speaker will be Marge Ganon. She said that the group will hopefully have weekly guest speakers and that she wanted to get the word out to pediatricians, doctors, parents, and event those who work with support animals.

She said those who want to just share their stories can also volunteer to speak.

She also said that she wants the group to be a way for parents to be able to coordinate activities for their children and find ways for them to get together and make new friends.

“If the community can not be on the outside looking in, but instead be on the inside, I think that would be amazing,” Mrs. Mourning said.

Support group sessions will be hosted at the St. Maries Fire Department, and the first one will be Sunday Oct. 20 at 1 p.m.

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