Every year around this time, just as the leaves are starting to change color up here in New England, I put on my fundraising hat and try to convince you to give some of your money to help rid the world of a disease that my son has. It helps to have a cute picture handy, but really I want you to think about this as a great big economics problem that’s worth your investment. Taking care of autistic kids like my son Jay is extraordinarily expensive, and one way or another that cost is visited on the economy as a whole. Anything we can do to prevent autism or mitigate its effects will be hugely beneficial, even in the cold calculus of cash.
Of course it will have an incalculable benefit for those parents in the future who might thereby avoid the visit. I regularly hear about parents who have just learned of their child’s diagnosis. It makes my gut ache. The visit is the trip to the specialist on the day your life changes. The visit is when you learn that your child suffers from a severe and lifelong neurological disorder. Listen to me: you don’t want anyone you love to go through the visit. Here is your chance to help.
I close with the letter my wife sent this year. Note the link at the bottom to the website where you can donate online. And for those of you who have already given, a thousand thanks.
Dear Friends and Family,
The 2007 Greater Boston Walk Now for Autism will take place on October 14th. Once again our family will be a part of that Walk and we are asking you to join us in raising critically-needed funds for autism research by making a contribution in support of our Walk. If you live in the Boston area, we also welcome you to join Jay’s Team and thousands of other walkers at Suffolk Downs in East Boston.
We’ll walk in honor of our son Jay, who is eight years old and severely affected by autism. He is nonverbal and has significant cognitive delays and attending difficulties. He requires constant supervision to prevent dangerous behaviors, such as bolting and climbing. Despite these obstacles, Jay is making progress at school in many areas. For example, he is recognizing a few written words now and he is using an augmentative device to make requests.
At home and in the community Jay spends a lot of time in self-stimulatory activity, especially making loud noises and shaking dangling objects up and down. But he smiles a lot, has great eye contact at times, and has gradually learned routines and become more compliant over the years. He is generally better behaved in restaurants and public places than he used to be. Swinging, climbing, and swimming are still Jay’s favorite activities, after stimming. He now has a new bedroom (added to the house this Spring), with a hook in the ceiling so that he can enjoy swinging in both the basement AND his bedroom. His sister Carolyn tries hard to get his attention and he occasionally responds.
We’ll walk for Jay on October 14 because the causes of autism are still unknown and there are no specific medical treatments or cure. We walk because, despite increasing national interest and high prevalence, autism research is one of the lowest funded areas of medical research by both public and private sources. We walk because we hope for a better world for Jay and Carolyn in the future, a world without this devastating disorder.
Whatever you can give will help! I greatly appreciate your support and will let you know how much we raised after the Walk.
Click here to get to my personal page and make a secure, online donation.