Well first, I'm just going to selfishly hi-jack this week's blog post...
Go to our home page to share and view our video: www.autismvillage.com
But let me first tell you a sad story...
It was about six years ago and it was time for Kirby to transition from the pre-school age early intervention program. We'd been in the program since the Easter Seals reviewer had pronounced Kirby autistic. The program was run by the nearby County Intermediate Unit and was held in a church basement.
We'd had some good teachers and a couple not so good ones and we were getting pretty savvy about looking out for ourselves and Kirby when we were invited to the local School District's transition night for special ed. kids who would be coming into school age classrooms.
We found a sitter for the boys and Jana and I made our way to the Intermediate Unit building where we were shepherded into a large room. We had been schooled to be wary of the school district's natural conflict of interest: managing budgets vs serving the autism and special ed. kids in the best possible way. So we took up a spot in the back of the room and watched and listened.
As I surveyed the room, I couldn't help but notice how many parents looked like deer in the headlights. They were scared. They hadn't expected to be here when they decided to have kids.
And I also couldn't help notice how many single moms were there. Many of them were with kids at their feet. This group looked scared but also just plane worn out. I imagined that many had come from their work, picked up kids from day care, and made their way to this meeting.
And then I started to wonder...how many of these couples and single parents would be able to exert the necessary effort so that their ASD kids could have the best future possible? Not because they didn't want to but just because of time, energy, money, and so many other issues that we all deal with.
I remembered what a friend of friend had told me after Kirby was diagnosed. She was a mom of a 16 year old with moderate to high functioning autism. She looked me in the eye and she said: "you need to always remember one thing - this is a marathon, not a sprint".
And that's what made me wonder about my fellow ASD parents that night. How many were up to the marathon? How many would succumb to the myriad of issues along the way. How many kids wouldn't get all the support that they needed to be all that they could be.
I started to wonder if just because of a fluke of birth would Kirby get the support he needed when another child who might need the support more and could go much further than Kirby wasn't getting what he needed. I started to feel a sort of injustice that not all of the kids represented in this room would reach their full potential just because of various external circumstances.
And from that seed so many years ago, Autism Village grew. I worried that grain of sand for years before doing anything with it. And then over a year ago I set out to bring practical tools to the autism community to make better futures for all kids with autism.
A few others sensed the difference that we could make and joined in. We would be addressing practical problems that all ASD parents have. And we would be doing so with the real life experience of raising Kirby.
After attempting to fund our vision various ways, six months ago we decided to do a Kickstarter. All we had was 20 volunteers, a big idea, and Kirby. And today, we went live on Kickstarter. Now we'll see what the autism world thinks of our vision...
Topher Wurts, Founder's Dad and Chief Bottle Washer