The Autism Tsunami
This is real: My name is Linda Schrader and my son Gary John is now 21 years old. Back when he was born in 1992, and by the time he was only 2 months old, we suspected there was something wrong. As we took him from doctor to doctor, specialist to specialist, we started to hear "we think he may be autistic", but there was not that much information on autism at that time, let alone anyone really understanding what it was. Information was very scarce when online in 1995... no such thing as Google, WebMD, etc. Some early interface and feedback we got was "Mental Retardation"... "I don't know and give it time he may be ok". These in some regards were the dark days of autism and a parent's worst nightmare of reality.
As Gary John grew to be 4 years old, we started to become more and more aware that we were not alone. The public schools had some special service programs that were more centered around other forms of disability and not anywhere near what they are today. As the next couple of years went by and public awareness was growing, we latched onto even small amounts of information to try to learn more about what was happening to our son, our lives. Doctors started to become more knowledgeable; this autism thing was growing at a fast rate.
From the ages of 6 through 12 years proved to be the most challenging years as parents of our autistic son. We could write a book; the fear of rain, the fear of sounds, not wanting to go anywhere, seizures, aggressive behavior, oh, the list goes on. Despite all of this, we continued to believe that he will be ok. "It just takes time..." we kept telling ourselves. It wasn't until 2007, at 15 years old, did we begin to accept the fact that our lives as parents may never be normal. Our retirement savings turned into providing a trust fund for his future as we realized that Gary John may not be able to ever become independent. Read more about my son Gary John.
The "he will be ok one day" slowly turned into "now what", "will he be ok when we are gone?", "what happens when our son gets out of high school?", "what if either of us as parents have health issues?", This is real.
This autism epidemic has grown to the number one problem in the world today. We all remember the Baby Boomers, anyone born between 1946 and 1964, history has seen this wave of population set trends; the housing boom, the next generation baby boom, the minivan for example. The Baby Boomers were the largest demographic group of individuals in the Nation that were making trends as they matured, they got married, had kids and a large group of those kids from the Baby Boomers had autism which continues today.
Today, more than 1.5 million individuals in the United States currently have Autism. In 2002, 1 out of 150 children were diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASDs). Today the numbers are growing faster than ever with 1 out of 88 children being diagnosed, representing nearly a 50% increase in rate. We are now seeing the first wave of the largest group of autistic children beginning to face adulthood and estimates are that 80 percent are under 22 years old. This group of autistic adults all have parents like me that are faced with the exact questions all at the same time; "Whats next?"
This is an Autism Tsunami and it is real.
The Schrader Autism Foundation is leading the way on suppressing this Autism Tsunami, the MISSION: To provide financial subsidy and educational assistance to families with children having Autistic Spectrum Disorders (ASD); To independently, or in partnership, implement learning tools and life skills programs; To successfully prepare ASD Children for independent life in today's society.
Educational Services Support: To help augment public and private school special services, such as life skill programs, that lack the funding or loss of funds from budget cuts. This is critical for continued knowledge toward independence.
Work Independence Programs: To help support public and private schools, other Foundations and Programs, that focus on actual work skills, that help foster the tools needed to function independently in society.
Direct Family Support: To help parents, in need of extra support services, for their children, such as specialized schooling for additional aid in work skills to help individuals gain the strong skills necessary to function in society.
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The Schrader Autism Foundation
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The Schrader Autism Foundation
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