Local Author, Blogger And Autism Ambassador Receives 2012 Mental Health Champion Award
Aaron Likens, an ambassador for TouchPoint Autism Services, was recently honored with the 2012 Mental Health Champion Award by the Missouri Mental Health Foundation. Likens was one of three Missourians recognized who have overcome mental health challenges to make life better for others and their communities. He has worked tirelessly over the past two years to increase awareness and understanding of autism through workshops and presentations, as well as advocating for early intervention.|
Likens has an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and wondered for years why people never understood him and why they couldn't speak his language. Now Likens is bridging the gap, traveling, writing and speaking to raise awareness for autism.
Likens was diagnosed with Asperger's at the age of 20. The diagnosis was tough, and he went through a period of deep depression. Through this depression, Likens became very self-aware and started to write. Eventually, he wrote a book, Finding Kansas: Living and Decoding Asperger's Syndrome, and now gives presentations to police, teachers, and parents educating them on autism awareness.
Likens says, "With this award I have made the jump into the next era. Over the past two years at TouchPoint my voice has become stronger and clearer, and each month more people are gaining an understanding of ASD."
Ron Ekstrand, President and COO of Life Skills says, "We are proud of Aaron. We couldn't ask for a better ambassador and spokesperson. Aaron sheds light on what people living with ASD go through every day. He gives a voice to those suffering in silence. What an honor for Aaron to be recognized as a Champion."
Life Skills, a United Way agency, provides individualized services to people with developmental disabilities – including autism – to help them learn, live, work and participate in the community.
TouchPoint Autism Services, a division of Life Skills, is the oldest and largest provider of autism services in Missouri. The agency annually provides services to more than 3,000 individuals on the spectrum and their families in 95 counties across Missouri.
For more information, visit lifeskills-mo.org.