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Torrington, CT: Parents open autism support center; 'we're excited'

Aug 12, 2023, New Haven (CT) Register Citizen: Common-Unity Center in Torrington focuses on long-term support for children, families

TORRINGTON — The chorus of young voices was loud and joyous as parents and their children gathered at an early August summer program session in the new Common-Unity Center of Torrington Area Families for Autism.

It was the first session since the end of June, and the kids were glad to be back.

“We’re excited,” said Torrington resident Brian Georgia, speaking to Christina Augliera, TAFA’s executive director, as the two-hour socializing program was about to start. “You’re excited?" Augliera said. "Me too, buddy."

Augliera and her husband, Adam Piechowski, are the parents of sons Cayden, 14, and Connor, 12. Connor was diagnosed as autistic in 2013, when he was 20 months old, his mother said.

Informed by her background as an applied behavior analysis therapist with the Institute of Professional Practice, Augliera co-founded TAFA in 2015 as a support group for parents and their autistic children. …

Before the Common-Unity Center opened in spring, TAFA, a nonprofit organization, partnered with local public agencies, holding social or fundraising events at Torrington Library, KidsPlay, Bad Dog Brewers and the Warner Theatre, she said.

Having their own meeting place will help TAFA “continue to grow into education, residential and employment” and “to support children and families with autism across the life span as we continue to grow,” she said in an email.

At the center, she said, “Our mission is primarily social, obviously, so having a pandemic was really hard, but we’re coming out of that. It’s grown exponentially. We went from about 250 followers on our social media to over 600, and we went from a contact list of about 45 to over 100.”

Families from Simsbury, Canton, Avon, Farmington, Torrington and Harwinton participate in TAFA programs, and “we don’t turn anybody away,” she said. …

Augliera said staffing shortages in local special education programs prompted parents to ask for more TAFA activities, and the new center makes that possible. “We wanted to be able to give them an add-on to extend their kids’ summer services,” she said….


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