Imagine, if you will, life where your entire world is upside down. You have a child you love more than anything else in the world and they have an “issue” that is not understood by the rest of the world. Their behavior may appear disruptive in social settings, they may not be responsive to loving touch; they move to a different drummer and require constant attention. If you didn’t need to provide an income for your family, attention to your spouse and love and attention to your other children, this might be a vocation you could handle. But that is not the real world. Parents of Autistic children find themselves faced with large bills for therapies, strained marriages and a schedule that can be overwhelming. That’s “so sad” you say. “I can certainly feel for them, but it doesn’t really affect me”….. Or does it?
If you own, run or work in a business, autism DOES affect you.
Don’t get me wrong, there are many diseases; horrible diseases; deadly, debilitating diseases that affect hundreds of thousands of children every year. Yet the statistics on autism overshadow childhood cancer, muscular dystrophy, cystic fibrosis and other childhood ailments. Autism is not a terminal illness. Children with autism grow up to be teens with autism, young adults with autism, adults with autism and senior citizens with autism. This is where it does get personal…
Currently it is reported that 1 in 88 children are being diagnosed with autism each year and of those diagnosed 1 in 50 are boys. There is no “cure” and the cause is not known. There is currently no test to determine if a child will be autistic and the expression of the ailment usually isn’t seen until after a period of typical developmental progress. It is a spectrum disorder, meaning that it isn’t seen in just one way, it can take many paths from mild to severe. It is said, “if you’ve seen one child with autism; you have seen one child with autism”. This is a daunting challenge for any parent.
But there is hope! It has been shown that early and intensive intervention can provide many of the children with the skills to be productive in society. This is where it does affect the business community. These children (and their families) are your customers and employees. The parents are often called away from work to deal with challenging behaviors at school, or can’t work at all to care for their child — taking them to multiple therapies after school. The children will be your future workforce.
You can help by making a financial investment in programs that provide the early intervention that is needed.
One such program is being provided at Sunrise Christian Academy in Miami in conjunction with Angels Reach Foundation. There are daily miracles observed as a group of children are given 3 hours of intensive therapies and academic support before joining their typically developing peers in an inclusive setting for socialization and more academics. The cost for the therapies is high as each child is assigned a primary therapist and rotates through 4-5 types of therapy daily.
We have seen children who are non-verbal become children who can communicate in complete sentences. Children who have needed to have physical restraints (harnesses) in a typical school setting, walk independently and quietly in a group. And the miracles don’t stop with the autistic child, the typically developing children also benefit by increased empathy and understanding. The children accept each other and true inclusion occurs. To watch them on the playground it is hard to tell who is typically developing and who is autistic.
If you would like to know more about the program, to schedule a tour or contribute, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org .