Raising Autism awareness one cup of coffee at a time

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BISMARCK, N.D. - April is World Autism month.

For one Bismarck mom, that means it is the perfect time to educate the community about autism. She’s doing it one cup of coffee at a time.

Coffee is life for Dee Daniels Neustel. She and her husband own Mocha Mamma’s in Bismarck’s Gateway Mall. But when she’s not making lattes, she’s probably working to raise awareness about Autism, something that hits home for this family.

“My son Grant is 8 years old. He was diagnosed with autism at about the age of 3,” said Neustel.

He is still nonverbal, but today Grant is in second grade. He’s in a regular classroom, with a regular teacher and a one on one aide. Some days, Dee can’t believe how far he’s come. Five years ago, when Grant was diagnosed, Dee found a group of parents who became her support system.

“It started as me and some other moms just having coffee with our kids just kind of almost venting to each other,” recalled Neustel.

That coffee group grew into a Facebook group, and today, Bis-Man Autism Families is a nonprofit dedicated to providing support and education.

“We’re all about educating and helping people who have questions,” she explained.

A self-described question asker, Neustel says no question is off limits.

“People don’t understand autism if they’re not involved in it. Don’t be afraid to ask questions,” said Neustel.

Neustel says questions lead to conversations, and conversations lead to education and awareness, and that will lead to a better life for people like Grant.

All this month, if you purchase a bag of Grant’s Grind coffee from Mocha Mamma's, a portion of the proceeds will be donated to continue the work on the inclusive playground at Liberty Elementary, where Grant goes to school.

Mocha Mamma’s is located in Bismarck’s Gateway Mall.

To learn about other Autism awareness projects, and to find support, visit Bis-Man Autism Families Community on Facebook.