My decision was based on supporting an agency that supported us when we needed it the most.
When my son was born my wife and I were typical excited/scared parents. All was well for the first year and a half. When my son hit one and a half, we noticed something was not right. He was not trying to walk as he should. This caused us to seek some answers. It turns out he had some neurological issues.
We placed him in a New Jersey State pre-school program for a few hours a week. We looked at this as a “head-start” type program and that all things would be fine. When he turned three, he still was not “normal” so we enrolled him in the “pre-school handicap program” within our school district because he aged out of the state program. During this time we were looking for the answer as to what was the problem, what was the cure, when will he be “normal”. Unfortunately, we never got the answer.
When he reached kindergarten age, we felt confident that with all this “pre-school” training he would have a very successful kindergarten experience which would eventually lead to Princeton University.
That did not happen. He had repeated “melt-downs” with persistent “rocking motions” and a disconnection from the rest of the class. We were blessed because his teacher was our neighbor and she liked our son and wanted to help, but she could not.
This led to evaluations by various in-district and out-of-district professionals who helped us identify what the issue was. Eventually we were given a primary diagnosis of Autism. What does that mean???
We were directed to a New Jersey organization known as COSAC which is now Autism of New Jersey. It was through this organization that we learned about the disease and what we can and cannot do.
Although they do not know what causes Autism, or how to cure it, knowing this fact has helped us accept our son as he is and in fact have a few laughs over his unique approach to life.
Because Autism of New Jersey helped us through this very stressful time, I wanted to support them in their efforts to help the next group of New Jersey families who think when they hear the diagnosis of Autism, they think they are hearing “terminal incurable disease.” Autism is not a death sentence, it is a life sentence. Once parents learn this, their anxiety is reduced and can accept their child as he or she is, not as they wish they were.
Who knows, maybe they will have an Autistic child like Bill Gates. (Yes he is Autistic, high functioning, but Autistic none the less.) Autism is a social disease, not a measure of IQ.