TAHLEQUAH, Okla. — The Cherokee Nation is contributing funds to the Griffin Promise Autism Clinic and recently announced a partnership with the Pervasive Parenting Center in an effort to launch the Cherokee Nation Autism Initiative. The announcement was made by Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. as he officially proclaimed April 2022 as Autism Awareness Month in the Cherokee Nation.

“Deputy Chief Warner and I have had many conversations on how we need to better our health system to support those who are on the autism spectrum, and their families,” Chief Hoskin said. “Here in the Cherokee Nation, it’s important that we learn how to better assist people with challenges that might be different than our own. That’s why I’m excited for our efforts with the Pervasive Parenting Center for the Cherokee Nation Autism Initiative. This will help us improve and expand the services that we currently offer.”

The Pervasive Parenting Center is a not-for-profit organization that provides assistance to families in eastern Oklahoma affected by autism and other developmental disabilities. The center partners with Cherokee Nation’s HERO project through the tribe’s behavioral health department, and the HERO project provides counseling and support services for families with children from newborn to 21 years of age who are citizens of a federally recognized tribe.

As part of the tribe’s partnership with the Pervasive Parenting Center, the center will provide training for the Cherokee Nation Early Childhood Unit, Child Development Center, the Cherokee Immersion School staff, as well as in the primary and secondary education settings. It also provides resources to professional staff and parents for children with autism and will act as a continued resource for Cherokee Nation Behavioral Health on a consulting basis. The partnership will also provide autism screenings for children and support groups for parents and caregivers.

“The first step to improving this area in our health system is understanding,” Deputy Principal Chief Bryan Warner said. “That’s why I’m thrilled for our partnership with the Pervasive Parenting Center. I believe, with their help, there will be better understanding in certain areas that we might not know. When we all have a better understanding of autism and the individuals on the spectrum, this will help us become better advocates across the Cherokee Nation Reservation.” 

The Griffin Promise Autism Clinic, whose mission is to provide hope and resources to individuals with autism, as well as their caregivers, also received a $2,000 contribution from the Cherokee Nation as part of the tribe’s recognition of Austism Awareness Month.