A blog about resources for autism and care and treatment.

Saturday, March 31, 2012

ACT Today! Calls for Nationwide ACTion to Save U.S. Children from Autism Epidemic

ACT Today! (Autism Care and Treatment Today!) calls the nation to help save a generation of children the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports as having autism; latest CDC research shows 1 in every 88 children has an autism spectrum disorder.

ACT Today! (Autism Care and Treatment Today!), a national non-profit organization whose mission is to provide care and treatment to children with autism, has issued a call-to-action to the American public to “act today” and help bridge the gap of care and treatment for the reportedly one million children battling autism. ACT Today! hopes the call-to-action will serve not only as a wake-up call but will encourage the nation to hold itself accountable in finding a solution to the autism crisis it is currently facing. 
"With the latest figures from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) showing that 1 in 88 children in the United States is currently diagnosed with autism, we can confidently say we have a true epidemic that is impacting a generation of children,” says ACT Today! Executive Director Nancy Alspaugh-Jackson.  
“ACT Today! cannot shoulder the burden of this epidemic alone. We join other autism organizations in calling for a National Strategy from the federal and state governments and private sector in dealing with this crisis.”
The CDC released its latest report this past Thursday, showing autism rates increasing rapidly and re-confirming that autism spectrum disorders are more prevalent than juvenile diabetes, childhood cancer and pediatric AIDS combined. The largest increases nationwide were among Hispanic and African-American children. 

The report does not specify if the increases reflect better autism awareness, thereby leading to diagnosis and access to services, or actual increases in the prevalence of autism spectrum disorders. These disorders are characterized, in varying degrees, by difficulties in social interaction, verbal/nonverbal communication and repetitive behaviors. They include Autistic disorder, Rett syndrome, Childhood disintegrative disorder (CDD), Pervasive developmental disorder-not otherwise specified (PDD-NOS), and Asperger syndrome.
“The process will take time and money,” adds Alspaugh-Jackson. “It will also take teamwork which includes the general public, corporations and businesses, civic groups, churches and religious organizations, as well as schools and youth groups.”
To learn how you can help, contact: ACT Today! at info@act-today.org.

About ACT Today!:
ACT Today! (Autism Care and Treatment Today!) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to providing resources and funding to families of children with autism who cannot afford or access the necessary tools their children need to reach their full potential. For more information about ACT Today!, visit: www.act-today.org.

Friday, March 30, 2012

U.S. Autism Rates Reach New Height: CDC

(Reuters) - About one in 88 children in the United States has autism or a related disorder, the highest estimate to date and one that is sure to revive a national argument over how the condition is diagnosed and treated.

The estimate released on Thursday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention represents an overall increase of 25 percent since the last analysis in 2006 and a near-doubling of the reported rate in 2002.

Among boys, the rate of autism spectrum disorders is one in 54, almost five times that of girls, in whom the rate is one in 252.

"One thing the data tells us with certainty - there are many children and families who need help," said CDC Director Thomas Frieden. "We must continue to track autism spectrum disorders because this is the information communities need to guide improvements in services to help children."

Advocates for people with autism seized on the apparent spike in the prevalence of the disease to call for more research to identify its causes and more services for those affected by it.

"This is a national emergency and it's time for a national strategy," said Mark Roithmayr, president of the research and advocacy group Autism Speaks. He called for a "national training service corps" of therapists, caregivers, teachers and others who are trained to help children with autism.

Some researchers have questioned whether the increases over the last decade are real or reflects greater awareness that has led parents and teachers to see symptoms of autism in children who would not have received the diagnosis a generation ago.

Changes in how the disease is diagnosed explains a large fraction of the reported increase in prevalence, even advocates acknowledged.

"Inevitably when these statistics come out, the question is, what is driving the increase?" said Roithmayr. Better diagnoses, broader diagnostic criteria and higher awareness, he said, account for about half the reported increase.

The new estimate from the CDC comes from the Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring Network, which operated in 14 states.

To determine whether a child has autism or a related disorder, what CDC calls "clinician reviewers" examined the medical and school records of 8-year-olds in the 14 states and also conducted screening. Children whose records included either an explicit notation of autism-spectrum disorder or merely descriptions of behavior consistent with the disorder were counted as falling on the autism spectrum.

CDC investigators warned, however, that the 14 sites are not "nationally representative." As a result, the rate of autism being reported on Thursday in CDC's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, "should not be generalized to the United States as a whole."

Autism spectrum disorders are marked by a suite of symptoms, all arising from atypical brain development that results in problems with socialization, communication, and behavior.
Although the disorder can be mild or severe, in general children with autism have difficulty communicating and making friends. Many find it painful to look other people in the eyes, which impairs their ability to understand what others are thinking and feeling.

(Reporting by Sharon Begley; Editing by Michele Gershberg and Philip Barbara)

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

We Run for the "Ones"

By Nashota Jackson

Five years ago my husband and I became first time parents to a beautiful baby boy. We lovingly gave him a strong name that passed the “at bat” test. Carter Jackson, definitely a name worthy of a great baseball player, or even football. After all, his dad played both growing up so maybe Carter would do the same. I teased my Marine husband that our son could always decide he wants to take ballet so we should be prepared for anything!  We couldn’t wait to see what the future would hold for our first born, and only son. The one thing we didn’t prepare for was autism. 

Watching your otherwise healthy child slip away into a place where he doesn’t look at you anymore or call you mommy and daddy is not something anybody can possibly prepare you for. While we weren’t certain what a future with autism would hold, we knew it would be the fight of our life…for his life. With autism there is always another fight, another battle, and you have to strengthen your team with unwavering supporters. ACT Today For Military Families is one of those supporters who will always be by your side. 

Last year my husband and I were so excited to participate in the inaugural ATFM  Run/Walk as a family. I am proud to continue the tradition with our team, Camp Pendleton Crusaders, this year. Our Marine won’t be able to make it as he is currently serving a yearlong deployment in Afghanistan but he is cheering us on from afar. We run for our son, Carter and we run for the 1 in 88 military children affected by autism. We would love to see you on April 7th in support of this great organization and if you don’t have a team yet, what are you waiting for?! We have an empty spot just for you! 

Join Nashota and her family on April 7 at the
ACT Today! for Military Families
5k/10k Run and ONEHOPE Family Festival. 

when you register to run! 
Use promo code SPRING


Monday, March 26, 2012

ACT Today! Helps 87 Children with Autism


In the 1st Quarter of 2012, ACT Today! was able to help 87 children with autism receive vital care and treatments they wouldn't otherwise have access to. Approved grant requests include ABA Therapy, fencing for safety, summer camp, school support, bio-medical treatment, assisted technology, social skills, and speech therapy.

The 2nd Quarter Grant Period will be available from April 1st thru April 30th. 

For more information about the ACT Today! and ACT Today! for Military Families Grant Program, visit http://act-today.org/act-today-grant-program.php.

A lettter from Zachary's mother...
I cannot thank ACT Today! enough for awarding my son a grant to get him started with his Naturopathic doctor.  He had severe oral sensory issues that caused him to not want to eat....ANYTHING!!!  We had therapists coming to the house for over a year, but he did not show much improvement.  I could not help but think there were some stomach issues going on that prevented him from wanting to eat.  Within 2 weeks of seeing his ND he started eating cheerios and drinking from a cup.  Now, 2 months later he looks so much healthier, is trying some new foods and is interacting with people more.  If it were not for this support, we would not have been able to get him started with this physician that has helped him tremendously.  I can't wait to see what his future holds. 
Thank you,
Zackary’s Mom

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Tools for Transformation Conference, April 13-14 - Los Angeles

Check out this must-attend event for parents, advocates, and health care professionals!

Special Needs Network’s upcoming 6th Annual Tools for Transformation Conference and Legislative Breakfast is the biggest and most comprehensive free autism, learning disabilities, ADHD, and mental health conference in Los Angeles. This massive two-day event begins on Friday, April 13th with the Legislative Breakfast, where participants have the opportunity to engage in dialogue with the city’s top policymakers and advocates. Distinguished panelists include SEIU-ULTCW President Laphona Butler, L.A. City Controller Wendy Greuel, CA State Senator Curren D. Price, Jr., L.A. County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, and more. ABC news anchor Marc Brown will serve as the emcee.

On Saturday, April 14th, the country’s most renowned experts in medicine, law, education, and advocacy will come together to provide families with cutting edge information and resources through a full day of classes and workshops. There will also be a resource fair where families can connect with health service providers, disability rights attorneys, and other special needs professionals. Other activities include book signings with special guest authors, networking luncheon, awards presentations, and free give-aways and raffles including iPads.

April 13, 2012 – Legislative Breakfast
Radisson Midtown at USC
3540 South Figueroa St.
Los Angeles, CA 90001

April 14, 2012 – Tools for Transformation Conference
Junior Blind of America
5300 Angeles Vista Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90043

Register for free at www.specialneedsnetwork.org

Thursday, March 22, 2012

LIKE ACT Today for Mililtary Families Run and Festival on Facebook Today

and ONEHOPE Family Festival 
Facebook Page

and you'll receive...
  The latest Run/Festival news
Info on Team and Individual Fundraising Prizes
Special promo code 
for a Friends and Family Discounts

Families of Autistic Children Make $18,000 or 28% Less than Average

By Christine Hsu, Medical Daily
Families of children with autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) earn 28 percent less than families whose children have no health problems and 21 percent less than parents of those with other health conditions, according to a new study.
The findings revealed that the average $18,000 income gap between families with autistic children and those without is mostly because mothers with autistic children do not have jobs or take lower paying jobs and work fewer hours. 
Researchers based their findings off of national household surveys done yearly between 2002 and 2008 that included 261 children with autism and more than 64,000 without health problems.
Researchers adjusted for factors like parents' age, race, education and health, and found that there were no differences between fathers, there were considerable differences in income between mothers. 
The study found that women with autistic children were six percent less likely to work, worked less than seven hours and made 56 percent or $14,755 less than mothers of kids with no health issues and 35 percent less than mothers of children with other health limitations, according to Dr. Zuleyha Cidav of the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia.
However, researchers found no significant differences in the fathers’ employment, work hours or earnings between dads with children affected with ASD or those with no health conditions.
Cidav said that these findings are not surprising because mothers are generally the primary caregiver and decision maker, therefore they have to “devote considerable personal resources to obtaining health care services for their children,” and sacrifice on things like personal career and income, according to a statement. 
The study authors also pointed out that the mothers of children with ASD studied actually had more potential for higher earnings because they were significantly more educated and older than mothers of children who are healthy or have other health conditions.
Researchers noted that previous studies focused on assessing the financial impact of childhood autism by examining direct costs to the healthcare system, but have largely ignored that indirect financial impact on families can actually be quite significant.
Parents of ASD children either have to choose reduced opportunities to work for time on needed care, and have limited ability for the high cost of specialized child care, or increase the amount of time they spend working to pay for needed care and risk their home life to suffer. 
Autism spectrum disorders, ranging from mild Asperger's syndrome to severe mental retardation and social disability, affect roughly one in 110 children in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Researchers said that more community-based resources are required to support families and their work obligations, and new policies that recognize the full impact of autism on families are needed to better assisted these families.
"When evaluating new interventions and policies, it is important to include costs and benefits to all parties affected by an intervention, including the family," the authors wrote.
"Accurately accounting for family effects in cost-effectiveness analyses can improve our understanding of the full costs and benefits of ASD-related interventions and guide policy makers in allocating resources for ASD treatment," they added. "Otherwise, undervaluing new financing policies are likely to create negative consequences for families."
The findings are published in the March 19 issue of Pediatrics.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Jesse Saperstein Champions for Children with Autism with Anti-Bullying Movement

29-year-old best-selling author, autism advocate and motivational speaker Jesse A. Saperstein has launched the "Free-Falling to End Bullying in 2012" YouTube (www.youtube.com/jessesaperstein) campaign as part of his zero tolerance, nationwide Anti-Bullying movement. Saperstein
, who has a form of autism called Asperger's syndrome (AS), has suffered bullying from peers starting at an early age in school. The "Free-Falling to End Bullying in 2012" video shows Jesse jumping from an airplane 14,000 feet above the face of the earth, featuring the vocals of Grammy-winning artist Taylor Swift and her Grammy-winning song, "Mean." It is the first video to feature an extreme sport and children with autism sharing their personal experiences.

"For a long time, my peers led me to believe that my abuse was self-inflicted," says Saperstein. "Now, I know better and want to bring awareness to the tragedies of bullying and make sure others no longer have to suffer and endure the fight alone."
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDP), 1 in every 110 children in America is diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD), making autism more prevalent than juvenile diabetes, childhood cancer, and pediatric AIDS combined. ASD is a range of complex neurodevelopmental disorders, characterized by social impairments, communication challenges, and restricted, repetitive, or stereotyped patterns of behavior. Autistic disorder is the most severe form of ASD,
while other conditions along the spectrum include milder forms known as Asperger's syndrome (AS), Childhood disintegrative disorder (CDD) and Pervasive developmental disorder not otherwise specified (PDD-NOS).

The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP) reports bullying is a common experience for many children and adolescents. Surveys indicate that as many as half of all children are bullied at some time during their school years, and the Bully Police of Minnesota states that 94% of children with a diagnosis of Asperger's syndrome faced peer victimization including emotional bullying (75%) and gang attacks (15%). Children who are bullied experience real suffering that can interfere with their social and emotional development, as well as their school performance. Some victims of bullying have even chosen suicide rather than continuing to endure such harassment and torture.
"Nobody should have to jump out of a perfectly safe airplane to see better days. Let this be the first generation to enjoy acceptance while having something to fight for. It cannot get better someday. It will become better TODAY," says Saperstein.

Saperstein says he's not suggesting that everyone jumps out of a plane. Instead, he urges the public - children and adults - to find their own unique way to become heroic. "It's time to advocate for those who deserve a friend. Or give somebody a voice that has been silenced by abuse and ignorance. The person you fight for today could be the life you're saving tonight."

"Jesse changed my life," says 10-year-old Todd Weaver of Hyde Park, New York. "I see my Asperger's like my super power now.
Jesse really made a difference in my life, and now I want to help other kids like me in the same way."

Saperstein visits schools on a regular basis and has been successful with stomping out bullying or at least dramatically alleviating it with every presentation.

He is currently working on initiatives to pioneer a middle/high school class in New York State that will be similar to health, but shall focus on educating young people about misunderstood disabilities as well as the psychological and legal consequences of bullying.

For more information about Jesse A. Saperstein visit www.jessesaperstein.com.

About Jesse A. Saperstein:
Jesse A. Saperstein is a best-selling author, autism advocate and motivational speaker. He is considered one of the most respected leaders in the Anti-Bullying movement of his generation. Jesse has a form of autism called Asperger's syndrome (AS). Individuals with Asperger's are impaired by a profound lack of social skills, common sense, and resistance to change in routine.

After graduating from Hobart and William Smith Colleges in 2004 with a BA degree in English, Saperstein set out to conquer the 2,174-mile Appalachian Trail to benefit the Joey DiPaolo AIDS Foundation. He began hiking from Georgia to Maine on March 9, 2005 and successfully completed the journey on October 18, 2005, raising more than $19,000 for children to attend summer camp who had contracted HIV/AIDS through prenatal transmission.

Shortly after his hike ended, Saperstein was exposed to some of the cruel realities of living as an adult on the autism spectrum and was treated as a social pariah by members of the community who did not understand. His decision to write a book was an opportunity to escape these realities and advocate for his peers who are not always granted a voice.

Saperstein's story, "Atypical: Life with Asperger's in 20 1/3 Chapters," was published by Penguin Group (USA) in April 2010 and became a popular memoir due to its practical advice and outrageous humor. He chronicles his misadventures and extremes to improve his social skills. The book quickly rose to the top of Amazon.com and placed Saperstein as a dynamic media personality, motivational speaker and most important, an advocate for people with disabilities.

After receiving a grant from Anderson Center for Autism (ACA) in Staatsburg, New York, Saperstein completed his first skydiving jump in front of his community in an effort to eradicate bullying. "Free-Falling to End Bullying in 2012" is currently a popular video on YouTube (www.youtube.com/jessesaperstein). Saperstein resides in Pleasant Valley, New York.

For more information about Jesse A. Saperstein, visit www.jessesaperstein.com.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

3 Reasons Why I Run in the ATMF 5k/10k Run

For me participating in the annual ACT Today! for Military Families 5k/10k Run and ONEHOPE Family Festival is for several reasons, one of them is that our son was diagnosed as being autistic when he was much younger, over the years his diagnosis and "spectrum" has changed some he is now 11.  

Having a child with any diagnosis can be difficult and I feel strongly about supporting anything we can.  I also participated last year so that our kids could help support our military kids and their families as we know firsthand the toll having an autistic child can take on the whole family and our daughter who is 17 now had a hard time over the years always understanding why her brother was treated so differently.        

Another reason we did this last year and will continue to is that we made this a family event and my husband was deployed during the last walk.  During that deployment we attended several memorials services and were visiting Balboa hospital on a regular basis  and this walk allowed myself and the kids to get out and enjoy a fun family day that will now as long as we are in California will be a yearly event for us.        

A lot of people do not understand autistic children and too many times the poor children slip through the cracks and it is not fair.  I may not remember every moment of my kids growing up but I will never forget the challenges of going through the system and even more so the challenges on the home front dealing with doctors, schools, IEP's and all the things that go with having an autistic child or any child with a medical diagnosis.        

This race was amazing for our family last year and it in turn made myself and the kids want to do more this year.  

We have also worked on improving our walk times....

Join Kyp and her family April 7 at the 
ACT Today! for Military Families 5k/10k Run 
and ONEHOPE Family Festival. 

For more details, visit 

Monday, March 12, 2012

Autism and parenting: Don’t be afraid to ask for help

By Laura Shumaker
SF Gate

The news of the Sunnyvale mother who shot her autistic son before turning the gun on herself has shocked and saddened the autism community, but sadly, the story is similar to others in the past few years. I recently talked to Peter Finch of KGO Radio about the latest tragedy. What advice would you give to parents of young children,  he asked, to manage the stress of raising a child with autism? 

Here you go:
1) Build in breaks for your self. Find mentor/helper/babysitters. How? Ask your regional center about respite, find out if local colleges have programs for students who would love to spend time with your child for college credit, (I’ll have more info about this option soon), ask local high schools and colleges and churches about community service projects.
2)Connect with parents who are in the same situation.  In the San Francisco Bay Area, check Parents Helping Parents,  Matrix Resource Centers,  orSupport for Special Needs.  AUTISM SPEAKS also has a terrific resource guide to check out–state by state. Myautismteam.com is new, and also has great info.
3) Don’t be afraid to ask for professional help. It was the BEST thing I ever did.
Here is my story. I have told it before, but it is timeless. Please reach out to me if you are struggling and I will do my best to help find you resource. PLEASE forward my story to someone that you are concerned about:
I was a part time pharmaceutical rep with a one and a half year old at home the first time I got really sick, sicker than I had ever been. I remember walking up a flight of stairs carrying my detail bag full of Advil and The Today Sponge (yes, I know this dates me) and feeling so weak that I had to sit down until I felt strong enough to go down the stairs in search of a pay phone so I could call my husband.
“I think I need to go to the emergency room,” I told him. There, it was determined that I had a meningeal infection and was given IV antibiotics. Still, it took me weeks to completely recover.
“This is so strange!” I told my doctor, “I never get sick!”
I didn’t admit to him that I had been laying awake at night worrying about my first child Matthew’s development after noticing that he wasn’t meeting the milestones of other children his age.
In the years that followed there was the diagnosis of autism, two more sons and a host of stress related illness including a case of pneumonia that landed me in the hospital for two weeks.
I knew all along that I needed help, but we were spending so much on Matthew’s therapy that I couldn’t justify the cost of a therapist for myself.
“This is just the way it is,” I told myself, “Talking to someone is not going to change that. I just have to tough it out.”
So I talked to family and friends,(usually ending the conversation with ‘but I’m fine, it could be so much worse’.)
I prayed and I exercised when I wasn’t sick. I didn’t sleep.
It wasn’t until I had a public anxiety attack at California Pizza Kitchen, where our family of five was celebrating my 41st birthday that it became clear that private therapy was a necessity.(Attack documented HERE.)
If you are somewhere along this path but still have doubts about the value of private psychological help, read on to learn how my own misconceptions were debunked:
1) “This is just the way it is. Talking to someone is not going to change that. I just have to tough it out.”
“Sustained or chronic stress,” says Esther Sternberg, MD, “leads to elevated hormones such as cortisol, the ‘stress hormone’, and reduced serotonin and other neurotransmitters in the brain, including dopamine, which has been linked to depression.” Esther is the a leading stress researcher and the chief of neuroendocrine immunology and behavior at the National Institute of Mental Health. “When these chemical systems are working normally, they regulate biological processes like sleep, appetite, energy, and sex drive, and permit expression of normal moods and emotions.”
A good therapist can:
a) help you manage stress with common sense tools and solutions that you hadn’t thought about since you are so overwhelmed by the relentlessness of your job.
b) make you aware of resources that are available to you. Did you know, for example, that your family might qualify for free respite care? (translation-free babysitting.)
c) refer you to a psychiatrist for a medication consultation. If you are having anxiety attacks in public on a regular basis and if you are not sleeping, you may need pharmacological intervention.
2) “I can talk to my family and my friends.”
Yes, you can talk to your family and friends–and they can only do so much. They may sympathize, but you need guidance from an impartial professional.
3) “I can’t afford it.
I know. Therapists can be expensive. My doctor recommended a therapist (one that I recommend to everyone I know-she is just wonderful) that was partially covered by our medical plan. Still, it was an investment, but one that I believe kept me afloat. Check withParents Helping Parents and Matrix Resource Centers and your local Regional Center to find a therapist in your price range. You can also visit the American Psychological Association Website for information about therapists in your area.
4) “I went to one before and I hated it.”
I actually went to one who told me in the first few minutes that she was going through a horrible divorce. Another asked me to role play with an empty chair. The one I ended up with (the wonderful one) came with a strong recommendation from my doctor.If you need help finding a therapist, contact me here and I will try to help you.
5) “What about group therapy?”
Group therapy is an excellent option. Ask your child’s pediatrician for resources in your area, or see #3 above for additional resources.
“I’ve used private therapy and the support of friends and family, says Susan Woolner, autism advocate and the mother of twins on the autism spectrum. “We also have a very strong autism parent network that supports other parents at breaking point. It works well because we’ve all been there and our support is unconditional, without judgment and we’ve all been there ourselves.”

Saturday, March 10, 2012

The $34,000 Lemonade Stand

It started with a glass of lemonade and brownie at a lemonade stand.  One neighbor stopping by to support a child’s Veteran’s Day lemonade stand in 2010.  It has turned into a $34,000 donation several months later.  The how’s and whys behind this unlikely alliance are surprising but then again, what is so surprising about two people coming together as a result of shared passion to help improve the lives of children?

It was a blustering Veteran’s Day when the children of Laura Marroquin, Director of Development and Programs at ACT Today! (Autism Care andTreatment Today!) decided that they wanted to do something fun to support the new program at their mom’s charity, helping military children impacted withautism.  The kids had first hand experience with the challenges that families face when someone is diagnosed with autism and wanted to raise money for United States service members, active and retired, who have a child with autism.  So they gathered some friends, baked some treats and made some lemonade and put out their table at their local park in hopes of raising a $100. 

After 3 hours of what appeared to be brisk business, the group of children had raised $112 when a man in a large white truck stopped.  Perhaps it was the yelling and shouting of kids with American flags, dressed in red/white & blue that attracted him.  And then he learned why the kids were so enthusiastic to share their message.  With the help of mom Laura, they told Windell about the 1 in 88 military children diagnosed with autism and about the unique challenges that frequent deployments and relocations and the difficulties encountered by a military child with autism.  Windell also learned the disheartening fact that once a service member retires or becomes disabled; his child with autism loses all of their treatment benefits.  After giving the children at the lemonade stand a hundred dollar bill that day, Windell had been moved by the plight of these children. 

Months later, after learning about an Orange County family whose 9 year old child with autism was no longer able to receive his necessary therapy hours as a result of his dads retirement from the Marine Corps, after serving his country for 21 years, Windell, the president of I Padrini di Antonello’s saw the opportunity to really change the life of a child.  After sharing the plight of this child with his membership, I Padrini, in staying true to their mission of making a significant difference to each child they support, donated $10,000 to ensure that Christian would be able to receive therapy for 2 additional years. 

And then came Aiden, diagnosed with Aspergers.  His father, who was in construction found himself without steady work for 3 years and no longer able to afford the ongoing tutoring Aiden needed to continue to advance both in and out the classroom.  I Padrini stepped in again providing Aiden a year of tutoring. 

These victories in supporting children in our community were celebrated by Laura and Windell’s families.  A demonstration to the children in the families about the importance of helping others in the community simply because it is the right thing to do.    It felt great but Windell, passionate about honoring the families who serve our nation, wanted to do more.  And he did.  One day in February, Windell did something he had never seen done before.  He asked his friends of this quiet philanthropic group, I Padrini, to support the ACT Today! for Military Families through a direct donation to the national non-profit.  The group said “yes”.  After individually pledging to support the group at various levels, the membership of I Padrini had raised $20,000 to support the autistic children of Southern California veterans via the grant program of ACT Today!

The power of a neighborhood lemonade stand unified with individuals who are passionate about improving the lives of children, a perfect combination. 

and help military children with autism!

Friday, March 9, 2012

My Mission is Clear

Welcome Guest Blogger, Nicole Lindstrom

As mothers we all try hard to create the perfect idea of what motherhood will be like.  From the outside I may look like I have it all together, but I struggle daily.  The goals, images, and plans that I had organized in my mind as a mother have not fallen into place and I have learned the hard way that it is okay when plans change.  In fact they change to teach us our life lessons and missions.

My son Mason who had developed normally through all of his milestones is on the autism spectrum.  At 18 months my vibrant and talkative boy stopped talking.  Instead of words, he began to screech and throw screaming fits when trying to communicate. My doctor at the time thought it was a phase and that we would revisit again at 2 years 2 months.  Since he was previously tracking well developmentally it was not a red flag.

We could no longer go to public places without him having a screaming tantrum.  The thought of going places outside of the house caused me to have some anxiety, but I knew if would be the best for us to continue our routines. Thankfully, the help and advice I was seeking came from a new mommy friend, which happened to be speech and language pathologist.  She had noticed a change in Mason when we were at stroller strides together.  I know she was placed in my life for a reason.  With her advice, she recommended that Mason needed help outside of her professional realm and gave me information about The Regional Center.  They are a public service.

It was a process and we had come to find that there is a very small window to receive help through these services. The journey that it took to get the services in place was a bit of work but a plan was devised to help Mason.  They recommended an applied behavioral analysis (ABA) program in which the work would be to stop his screaming behavior and reward him if he used his words.  The Regional Center worked with us up until the age of 3 and it was then his file was turned over to the local school district, where a team of experts evaluated him.  He is now in various classes that work along side with his preschool program.  It is a continued work in progress daily, but the results have been phenomenal.  

I am so very blessed in many ways that from what can be seen as a challenge for both Mason and our family, has enabled me to take a step back and change my ways.  I no longer can be that yes person, and we often have to say no to play dates or activities that are going on during Mason’s school schedule.  I have learned what is important and relevant.  A need for balance is a constant reminder that is present in the eyes of both my children.  I have learned that my mission is to help my son get through this small bump in the road.

Mind you, I still get caught up like any other Mommy in what we may be missing out on, but when I see the leaps of bounds my son has made, I know it is well worth it.  My best advice for other families is that you are the best judge of your child and that most children that are diagnosed under the autism spectrum often receive early intervention programs because a parent noticed a change in a skill they once had.  Early intervention has helped my son and with a big push, he will start kinder-garden without assistance and on time.

For Mommy support: Nicole.lindstrom@cox.net