Local non-profit tackles autism

Betty Proctor, owner of MPAC, a non-profit located in the heart of Railroad Square. Photo courtesy of Proctor

A Tallahassee mother, Betty Proctor, has started MPAC, a non-profit designed to help her daughter and others who are on the autism spectrum.

MPAC is an acronym for Motivating People through Arts & Crafts. Proctor wants to inspire people to be creative and explore their obsessions and interests. Her hope is that the exploring will lead to the participants turning those interests or expressions into entrepreneurship and utilizing  them in employment.

“I started MPAC because of two reasons: one reason is my daughter,” Proctor said. “The other is a will that was placed on my life to help the youth.”

One in 54 children in the United States is diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder. (ASD)

According to the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, ASD is a developmental disorder characterized by social and communication impairments, along with limited interests and repetitive behaviors. Early diagnosis and intervention are key to improving learning, communication, and other skills,  Johns Hopkins reports.

“My overall goal is to enhance friendships and/or acquaintances through arts and crafts with everyone, primarily those on the spectrum or with communication disorders. I want to help to change the face of autism,” Proctor said.  “in my opinion, autism is a different way of communication and perception of life. I’m not trying to downplay its characteristics or the struggles we encounter. I want to let others know there are role models and positive aspects of autism.”

Some parents of children who are diagnosed at an early age may have a bleak or limited perception of their child’s future. Proctor wants them to see a positive and realistic view of autistic teens and adults. She hopes to possibly provide resources to assist them.

MPAC has a location in Railroad Square that allows participants to get creative as well as shop for merchandise. MPAC currently provides arts and crafts workshops; entrepreneurship opportunities; opportunities to enhance and develop social and life competencies; and leadership opportunities.

“In the near future we will provide employment competencies and volunteer opportunities,” Proctor said, “and very soon you will see a blog created by our participants regarding their experiences with autism.”

MPAC is working with a group of FAMUs School of Journalism and Graphic Communication students to implement new ideas and to establish a new look for the non-profit.

Charity Graham is one of the FAMU students taking part in the effort to assist MPAC. Graham is a senior public relations major.

“I think that MPAC is so needed in today’s society,” Graham said. “I am just so  glad that I can play a part in her cause.”

MPAC was started as a way for a mother to teach life lessons and values to her daughter. Proctor hopes she has started a movement that is growing into a moving force in the community.

“It is my hope that my daughter learns independence, faith, hope, leadership and financial stability,” Proctor said. “I hope her takeaway is that if she has a passion to do something in life she can turn it into something like a job or business.”

Anyone looking for more information on MPAC and the workshops that are offered  can visit the website, www.mpacobs.com; Facebook and Instagram; or come by the shop in Railroad Square.