Autism Group Invites Newcomers, Regulars Back For 2018-19 Season

Published: September 07, 2018 at 12:00 am


A local grassroots support organization for families with children on the autism spectrum has scheduled its first few activities of the 2018-19 season, and it all begins with ice cream.

Families United in Newtown (FUN) founder Linda Jones established the organization in 2010 in memory of her late son, Tyler, to help bring the community of special needs families together in a safe and welcoming place.

At each FUN meeting, families are paired with a National Honors Society student from Newtown High School who will spend time with the kids, giving the parents a much needed break.

The group’s “Fall FUN Sign up and Kickoff” activity is happening Saturday, September 15, from 3 to 5 pm in the lower rear activity room at the Newtown United Methodist Church (NUMC) on Church Hill Road in Sandy Hook. Kids and guests will be treated to Ferris Acres ice cream, along with live and DJ music.

The event is an opportunity for parents and caregivers to get all their FUN waivers and documents processed so kids will be set for any FUN event for the year.

Then, on Saturday, October 27, “Halloween Fun” will be had by all from 4 to 7 pm in the cafetorium of Newtown High School, 12 Berkshire Road. Youths are encouraged to wear their Halloween costumes and to enjoy refreshments, DJ dancing to spooky favorites, and a trunk or treat candy dash in the parking lot (weather permitting).

On Saturday, November 10, FUN will host its popular “Respite Dinner” from 5 to 7 pm at NUMC. This event, also featuring quiet live music, is an opportunity for parents to gather and socialize with their peers from the community.

Attendees will enjoy a full prepared meal and dessert, served by NHS Honors Society students and volunteers, who will also provide assistance and care for any children attending in a separate location at the church so parents can enjoy an hour or two of respite time together without distractions.

FUN’s final event of the calendar year will be on Saturday, December 1. The group’s “Holiday Celebration” is happening from 3 to 6 pm at Newtown Congregational Church, 14 West Street, and is scheduled to feature a small gift giveaway of items donated by a group of partners. Previous pre-holiday gatherings have also included ornament-making crafts and a visit from a certain “jolly old elf.”

The group typically holds at least one public concert each year that features a mix of local performers from among participating FUN families as well as local musicians from the community and beyond. More information on that event, as well as the winter-spring activities, will be announced before the New Year.

Broadcast Training

To help promote FUN and the public events they sponsor, Ms Jones was recently trained by the team at Charter Communications’ Spectrum CTV-192 public access television studio on Commerce Road. As a result, Ms Jones and key FUN volunteers learned how to use the studio's video cameras and production equipment.

The first project they undertook was to film the “Awesome ’80s” benefit concert that was held at Newtown Congregational Church last June.

Ms Jones told The Newtown Bee that the entire crew at Charter/Spectrum was very gracious and kind as they worked with her and the FUN volunteers.

“When we needed video equipment to film the benefit concert in June, they trained us so we were able to capture the performance for anyone to watch,” she said. “Then they helped us to edit the recording for video on demand — which makes the performance available to watch on the station’s website for a year.”

Ms Jones said the CTV-192 crew was “helpful, professional, and supportive of our cause.”

“I started doing some of the training work at the studio and observed the crew taping Maggie the dog and Reverend Rob with the Lutheran Church comfort dog program,” she said. “It was exciting to be a part of the back room support crew and observe what actually goes on behind the scene in a cable TV shoot.”

Being in the right place at the right time put Ms Jones in a position to be invited to get out from behind the camera and to be a guest in segment of the program In Good Company with host Ron Dukenski on August 25,” she said. “This was another wonderful experience to tell our story and promote upcoming events.”

As a result, Ms Jones is encouraging those who represent other community groups looking for publicity to consider completing the next studio training course.

Take The Class

Attendees will learn studio production, control room operations, field production, and video/audio editing over a 13-week period. Those who complete the training will earn a certificate in Advanced Television Production.

This free opportunity is open to anyone over the age of 17 in Charter’s 14-town service area, including Newtown. Programs on music, art, politics, news, weather, and more — all produced by members of the local community — can all be found on the local channel, streaming on demand at, or on Youtube at communityvision192.

The next class begins September 20. For information and registration details, call 203-304-4050.

To learn more about attending or supporting FUN, visit the organization’s Facebook page at or its website,


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