This guest post is by Ken Alumbaugh, who talks about autism and DSW's Shoe Lovers Care Contest, where Autism Speaks is a finalist! You can vote for Autism Speaks starting now via DSW's Facebook Page here.
Today, the CDC estimates that 1 in 88 children are diagnosed as being on the spectrum. There is no cure for Autism, but there is hope through advocacy and awareness groups such as Autism Speaks. That is where my story begins.
When our son was diagnosed with autism at two and a half years old, we were lost and didn't know what to do. We thought our youngest daughter would be there to support him through life after we were gone. Then suddenly only about a year later, she was diagnosed with ASD as well. We were devastated and worried about their future and never felt as lost and helpless as parents. We tried going to stores, restaurants and doing normal family outings, but were faced with public criticism and threatening remarks. As a whole, our family felt secluded from society. We had no family around and no therapists were available where we lived.
With the help of Autism Speaks we were able to research where to find help for our family and support for our children. We found therapy centers, tool kits, and a group who could relate and make us feel included, as if we were no longer alone. We made a move to Austin, TX where our children have received grants and programs for Speech Therapy, Occupational Therapy and ABA. We are grateful for the help that has been given to our family, and look forward to the challenges that our children will continue to overcome throughout their lives.
Autism is not just a disorder; it’s a change in lifestyle that affects everyone around us and it is time that more people were made aware.
Autism Speaks helps fund education, research, and advocacy for those affected or related to individuals with Autism on a national and world-wide level. They have done volumes for the many families affected by autism, and continue to build upon their successes realizing that the challenges are ongoing. Our family now has found the help that they need, but there are many more out there like us who still need somewhere to turn. Autism Speaks can help them.
*Autism Speaks is one of eight finalists in the DSW Shoe Lovers Care contest and is eligible to win $75,000 towards their mission. Starting on June 6th, you can vote once a day through June 19th for Autism Speaks to be the lucky winner! VOTE NOW to help families just like us find the help they need for their loved ones.*