I have been the living embodiment of a parent searching for the best autism resources for years. It isn’t necessarily uncommon to come across a new resource that is helpful, but I do think it is rare to find such an amazing resource available that I knew so little about. It feels a bit like a “best kept secret”, but no one should want it to be a secret. So, for those of you who have been living in the dark like me, I want to introduce you to OCALI.
- What is OCALI?
The acronym OCALI stands for Ohio Center for Autism and Low Incidence (wow, say that three times fast). For ease, and like most everyone else, we will continue to just refer to it by its shorthand name of OCALI. Their mission at OCALI is “Inspiring change and promoting access for people with disabilities” and they seem to do a fantastic job at doing just that.
- Who qualifies for OCALI?
Although the name suggests a resource for those with autism specifically, OCALI actually works to help people with many different types of disabilities and many of their resources are helpful for children of all ages and abilities. The name also suggests that it is a resource for only those living in Ohio and although a very small portion of its program is set for residents of Ohio alone, about 99% of the resources they offer are online and can be accessed worldwide at no cost!
- What does OCALI offer?
The OCALI website located at ocali.org is stocked full of helpful resources. They offer everything from news, information on local events, grab and go resources, and a huge amount of training and education tools for people with disabilities, their families, teachers, and care providers. If you scroll down on their website’s main page, past the highlights and local events sections, you will find their resources broken down into helpful “center” categories which will help you narrow down your search for what resources will work best for you.
Every year OCALI hosts an event known as OCALICON which is a conference that offers information and sessions on autism as well as many other disabilities. The conference takes place in November and since 2020, OCALICON has been held online meaning that you can sign up and access all the conference has to offer from anywhere in the world. The conference is attended by many teachers and other professionals, but they have lots of great information for families as well. Unlike the resources found on the website, the conference does require registration and a fee to access, but they do offer discounted rates to parents and family members wishing to attend.
- Lending Library
The lending library is another online resource that allows you to “borrow” books, as well as so many other helpful resources. You do have to be over 18 and you must register (which is free) to access this service. Once registered you can go to the site and select the materials that you want to borrow, and they can be shipped right to you free of charge. Just like checking out a library book, they will have a date that the materials need to be shipped back for return. Unfortunately, this is one of the very few resources which is available to ONLY those who reside in Ohio. But for those that do live in Ohio (like me), it is a great service that you won’t want to miss.
Well, there you have it. Quite the hidden gem if I do say so myself. I will be honest that I had heard people mention OCALI in passing, especially when referring to the annual conference. But I don’t think I ever fully understood the depth of what OCALI was or just all it had to offer to families. Maybe other people have been aware of this amazing resource all along and I am just late to the game. But for any other people over here like me who didn’t realize they had such an amazing site available to them, we are all now in the know, and we can start taking full advantage of all the great things OCALI has to offer!
Featured photo is a screenshot from the Ocali.org homepage.