Monday, March 25, 2013

To Go the Distance for Autism

You may remember last year's post on this topic, Going the Distance for Autism?  And perhaps you also heard about the latest estimate reported by the US Center for Disease Control and Prevention, that puts the autism rate at 1 out of 50 children, up from 1 out of 88 just one year ago! When my daughter first was diagnosed, almost a decade and a half ago, the rate was only 1 out of 1000, although soon after it was revised to 1 out of 500!

I should add that whatever the rate is nationwide, it's always much higher in New Jersey, where I live. Part of the reason may have to do with the environment and all of the heavy industry that the state was associated with. But another reason is that New Jersey offers the best services and schools for children with autism, so many families move here when one of their children is diagnosed.

The statistics are shocking! Unbelievable! But terribly, tragically true! And don't forget that children with autism will grow up to be adults with autism. It's a social time bomb about to go off. And I don't think even Obamacare has much in the way of provisions for that eventuality. But whatever problems adults with autism may have to deal with, or that we as a society will have to deal with on their behalf, they will be intensely magnified if they don't get the help they need, beginning in early childhood, as they are growing up.

So, while there are many different ways in which the problem needs to be addressed, one of most important things that anyone can do to help is to support the specialized schools that give children with autism the best chance of leading happy and productive lives. A group of these schools in the New Jersey/New York Metropolitan Area have banded together to raise money for autism education through the annual Go the Distance for Autism fundraiser.

You can help too, if you're so inclined, by visiting my daughter Sarah's page. Just click here. But I'll also share with you what it says over on her page.

Sarah's First Day at EPIC and Sarah Today

Sarah turned 17 a few months ago. Unlike other girls her age, she isn't looking forward to high school graduation, or looking at colleges. She isn't talking about boys, or fashion, or athletics, or any of the many things that teenagers care for. She doesn't talk on the phone or update her status on Facebook or go hang out with her friends.

Because Sarah has autism, we don't have to worry about her going out with other teens, about where she might be going and what she might be doing. But we do worry about what will become of her, about how she will get along as adult, especially when we're no longer around to take care of her. And we worry about her seizures, which come every so often despite the medication she takes. And we worry about her when she's not feeling well, and can't tell us what's wrong.

We worry, but we know that Sarah has made great progress over the years, and continues to do so, working hard with the help of her teachers at EPIC School.

Now, as a 17-year-old, with the help of her teachers at EPIC School, she is learning how to use money, wash dishes, send a text on a cell phone. With the help of her teachers at EPIC School, she goes to Target to practice making a purchase on her own, and goes out to lunch with her classmate Gina every Friday, and orders her own meal. the help of her teachers at EPIC School, she takes part in a supported work program in the community, unpacking boxes, putting clothes on hangers, doing office work. the help of her teachers at EPIC School, Sarah is learning what she needs to know to be a productive citizen, take care of herself to the best of her ability, and live a fulfilling life.

With you help, EPIC will continue to help children with autism like Sarah, children who desperately need the intensive type of assistance that only these kinds of schools can provide. With your help, EPIC will be able to launch an adult program for children like Sarah, for when they turn 21 and age out of the educational system. With your help, Sarah and her classmates will have a chance to live happy and productive lives, which is all that any of us can ask for. With your help. Won't you help?

Having shared that with you, once again you can visit Sarah's page to donate or participate, and any support that you can give, not matter how much, is greatly appreciated. And, of course, please do so only if you are able to, financially and otherwise. Thank you!

No comments: