Challenges can arise at anytime for families, especially with special needs children such as those with autism. Readily available resources are imperative.
Until recently parents suspecting autism and needing assistance in diagnosis, treatment and other essential information were forced to travel to Atlanta. Families in Fannin, Gilmer, and Union counties now have another option closer to home.
North Georgia Autism Foundation (NGAF) CEO Tripp Ritchie was the guest speaker at a recent Kiwanis meeting to inform members of this new program. A former Kiwanian, he expressed how his time in Kiwanis was an inspiration in helping him see how great a need there was for a local program such as NGAF.
NGAF programs not only support families in diagnosing a child, but also in assisting both child and family members with facing challenges of living with “Autism Spectrum Disorder” (ASD) and other Developmental Disorders throughout their lives.
Ritchie explained there was one foundation supporting autism, but no rural area program, until NGAF. He shared with attendees:
- One in 59 children is affected with autism.
- One in 38 affected is boys.
- By age three, a diagnosis can help change these children’s lives. It is important to have a diagnosis before a child reaches age three to help with directing a pathway of success in later years.
- Ninety percent of brain development is before age six.
- Eleven children from Fannin County are currently diagnosed with autism and are receiving treatment. They are enrolled in a local school.
- From placing an application to diagnosis and on to a treatment plan usually takes 24 months.
- He hopes to bring this number down.
Since the inception of NGAF, the program has been gaining momentum and currently serves 27 families.
NGAF is removing barriers, increasing access to early clinical diagnosis, and providing treatment services. Treatment programs are individualized which fills a gap in services not available in the North Georgia Mountain area a few short months ago. NGAF offers diagnosis and treatment options at no cost to individuals and families.
Ritchie added there is a need for $50,000 which will help open a Pediatric Rehabilitation Clinic by July 1, 2019. Community support would be appreciated and “all of our funds (will) stay right here in North Georgia.”
Donations for NGAF can be sent to North Georgia Autism Foundation, 11 Overview Dr. Suite 203, Blue Ridge, GA 30513.
Ritchie can be reached by email at Tripp.Ritchie@ngafinc.org, Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/pg/NorthGeorgiaAutismFoundation/ or call 1-706-455-5183 for more information on services offered for individuals with autism.
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BLUE RIDGE, Ga. – After Qualifying Week came to an end in March, Fannin County got to see its choices for Fannin County Post 2 Commissioner.
Announcements circulated prior to official qualifying of candidate’s intentions to seek this position, but one qualifier chose to wait and announce his candidacy after all proper paperwork and requirements had been met.
William Hoke “Tripp” Ritchie III spoke with Fannin County’s Republican Party at their March meeting about his plans if elected to the Fannin County Board of Commissioners.
Ritchie, a veteran of the United States Marine Corps, spoke of his 25 years of service and, in particular, his two tours in combat: “This was always home. When you’re in a combat environment and you need a little break you think of where is your home and to me it was here.”
A sixth-generation Fannin County resident and co-owner of Ritchie Creek Farm, Inc., Ritchie spoke of the desire that led him back to Fannin County and how he was able to purchase back some of the land from his family’s original homestead.
“I’m actually living on land that my great-great-grandfather bought, and it’s back in the Ritchie family,” Ritchie beamed of his Fannin County roots as he added, “Real proud of that.”
Ritchie is not a stranger to public service having been a former facilities manager for the town of Hilton Head Island. Ritchie feels that having held this position he is better prepared to serve the citizens of Fannin County.
Ritchie has dedicated much of his life to the service of others. Being a decorated combat veteran and serving as lieutenant colonel in the United States Marine Corps, he went on to be a panelist and presenter in the World Wide Anti-Terrorism Conference of 1999.
Professionally, Ritchie has served as director of Family Support Services and Development and Behavioral Pediatrics at the Medical University of South Carolina and director of the Autism Center and Navicent Health at the Medical Center of Central Georgia in Macon.
Ritchie went on to co-found and serve as executive director of Lowcountry Autism Foundation, Inc., and received the Jefferson Award for public service by the United States Supreme Court in 1995.
“Service to me is when you give more than you have,” Ritchie said, explaining his dedication to our area.
Ritchie plans on running a self-funding campaign and will not be accepting donations. He also spoke of his salary if elected: “I’m donating 100 percent of that to the charities in our community that do service.”
These charities include Snack in a Backpack, Toys for Tots, American Cancer Society, and the Special Olympics.
When it comes to his feelings about his opponents in this election, Ritchie explained, “Anybody that runs for office and holds an office is doing a fantastic service for their community. It really takes a lot of courage to take on that challenge.”
Ritchie will face Republican challenger Glenn Patterson and incumbent Larry Joe Sosebee in the May General Primary. The winner of this race will go on to face Democratic nominee Dixie Carter in the November General Election.
The May General Primary is scheduled to take place May 22, 2018. Voter registration deadline for the General Primary Election is April 23.
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