Parent Spotlight - Gia Bell

"My life goal is to create more resources for people with autism,” said Gia Bell.

Bell, who is making a difference in the lives of so many, is well on her way to accomplishing that goal. She has spent nearly fourteen years making an impact at Cleveland Clinic Akron General. She is the Health Unit Coordinator at Akron General and, most recently, served as the project leader for Akron General’s designation as an “autism-friendly” adult hospital.

According to the Autism Society of Greater Akron, “Cleveland Clinic Akron General is the first hospital in Akron, and among the first adult hospitals in the nation, to be designated an ‘Autism Friendly Hospital.’”

Working closely with the Autism Society of Greater Akron, Bell started working on the project with her colleagues in August of 2017. They developed the resources and support to accommodate patients with autism who are being treated at the hospital.

They coordinated and organized more than 650 caregivers to be trained at the hospital. Bell worked with departments at the hospital from security and registration all the way up to the leadership and executive teams.  “Awareness is a big part of what we’ve done,” said Bell. “Awareness improves understanding and willingness to accommodate our patients.”

Today, the staff of Cleveland Clinic Akron General has been trained with the ability to identify a person with autism spectrum disorder based on their characteristics. In addition, the caregivers have been trained in adapting their approach, making accommodations, and utilizing resources and support to improve the patient’s experience and medical outcome.

Bell’s passion to generate awareness comes from her son, Graysen, who is a second-grade student at JB Akron. When she enrolled her son at Julie Billiart Schools, Bell believed the smaller class sizes and Intervention Specialists would be able to assist him best with his education.

“He has had a lot of progress,” said Bell. Because of Julie Billiart Schools, Graysen has been able to develop his speech and communicate more effectively. “He’s developed the confidence to have friendships and to interact socially not only in school, but in other environments.”

Most importantly, Graysen has been able to do things that people once told Bell he would never be able to do in his life. “He has surpassed all of these things,” she said. Bell will continue to work to create more resources, support, and opportunities for people with autism spectrum disorder. Additionally, she will work to increase awareness so that people have more empathy and understanding in the world of autism spectrum disorder.

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