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My son Michael was diagnosed with Autism at 18 months old. He is Globally Delayed and has severe Sensory Issues. He is the sweetest little boy with a big heart and loves to cuddle while watching Doc McStuffin. He enjoys going for walks and listening to music. Michael also has Seizure disorder and CP. These diagnosis were hard for my husband and I to understand and finding affordable therapies was just as hard.
We both spoke to lots of friends and wrote letters to organizations. One afternoon a mutual friend of ours just happened to ask the right people. Fight 4 Autism was able to help us. They gave us a beautiful donation to help our son go to a Sensory Gym. At this gym Michael is able to open up and experience exercise in a less demanding atmosphere.
Not only do the woman at Fight 4 Autism help you with monetary assistance they are also extremely supportive. These beautiful woman are knowledgeable and help point you in the direction you need. On many occasions they made me realize I am not alone. They have become part of TEAM MICHAEL and our family.
Thank You So Much!
The Feczer Family
Last summer my husband and I applied for aid from Fight 4 Autism. We were in desperate need of respite care. Our son Christopher, 15 and our daughter Amanda, 13 are both on the Autism Spectrum. They need assistance/supervision with most daily activities such as showering, getting dressed, and brushing teeth. They have limited speech which often leads to frustration, anger, and tears (to all four of us) because they can't tell us what they need, want, or feel. This frustration then turns into self-injurious behaviors. For Amanda this involves hitting her head (with her hands or against any hard object around her), crying, kicking, and jumping. These meltdowns can last from anywhere from 2 minutes to an hour long! For Christopher, these outbursts can last anywhere from 1 to 30 minutes at a time and consists of biting his hand/arm, crying, and jumping. This leaves us physically and emotionally drained.
Family members used to help us care for our children, but as they got older and stronger it became more difficult for family to assist us. Even though we have a wonderful babysitter, we don't usually have the money to pay her. Our family only has one income coming in because my husband is disabled with MS and depression. This leaves us with barely enough money to pay our monthly bills and services for our children, so an evening break from our children is often not an option.
Last October we were ecstatic when we received an email stating that we will be rewarded $1200 of respite care for a year! This averages out to be about two evenings a month that we are able to get a much needed break from our children. Thank you Fight 4 Autism!!
- Stephen and Stephanie DeFilippis
Tyler was born in 1991, and had a sudden regression into autism at the age of 2 years, 11 months, following a well pediatric visit and a subsequent fever of 105.5. Following his regression, he lost verbal skills, motor & coordination skills, toileting skills, and Intellectual abilities. Tyler’s biological father voluntarily, left Tyler’s life, permanently, at this point. Tyler’s behavior became significant. The crying, screaming, and the tantrums that lasted for hours, each day. Tyler and his Mom were living with Tyler’s grandparents, and Mom who provided loving support, and paid privately for therapies that were not covered by insurance. There was no diagnosis back in those days, and there were no other cases of autism to compare him to. The specialists were few and far in between. Tyler was dismissed by a Neurologist in 1995, due to his significant, severe behavioral tantrum, in the office.
Schools couldn’t manage him, and there simply were not many special needs programs, out of district at the time. There were no programs in district, either. Tyler was placed in a Regular Education classroom for years with severe intellectual disabilities. Mom sued the school district twice just to gain appropriate services. When Tyler was 14, he was sent to a Day school for special needs kids, but they couldn’t manage the behavior. Finally, at 16 years old, Tyler got into the right school. NJ realized that they couldn’t manage his educational needs, and sent him to the Wood’s School, in Langhorne, PA. This was Tyler’s first appropriate educational setting ever. It was also a Residential school. He lost very valuable years being shuffled to so many inappropriate school settings. He was evaluated by the Psychiatrist on staff who diagnosed him with autism, and mood disorder. Shining a new light on the diagnosis. He gained a diagnosis of Autism at 16 years old, finally.
The State of New Jersey started a program called “Return Home New Jersey”. It was an initiative to return those cases placed out of state and provide similar care for those kids, in the state, in Group homes. It all sounded good, until we actually came back to NJ in 2013. The care was not similar. Staffing of group homes uses entry level folks, often with significant communication barriers, our challenged kids simply cannot understand the language being utilized. Entry level staff are not trained in any behavioral modification techniques, positive reinforcement. They are instructed, and bound by Danielle’s law to call 911 for behavioral emergency. Within the first year of “Returning Home”, staff had sent him approx. 85 times to the ER, or mental hospital. Following a meeting to formally evict him from his provider, DDD did not find a home that could provide behavioral supports. Months went by, the provider unable to support his behavior appropriately, lead to the provider moving Tyler to a group home that housed extremely severe behavior clients. Mom had not consented to the move, and fought against it. Tyler was moved to the home without consent, and an incident with the new roommates stealing and destroying all of his possession’s, started upon move in. He was frightened and bullied by his rough roommates, and lack of staff control over any behavior. Tyler eloped in the middle of the night trying to get to his Mother’s house, where he did not have to fear for his life, while at home. His group home called the police, and evicted him on the spot. The state police took him to jail.
Sept 18, 2015, The Hunterdon County Jail system called Mom to inform that Tyler is safe, and being held on the medical unit, out of the general population due to his severe autism, and intellectual disabilities that were realized upon admission to the jail. Kudo’s to the Hunterdon County Jail system for recognizing autism, and going the extra mile to identify, and take special care of a special needs Autistic man. Clip of Tyler’s arraignment, http://www.njtvonline.org/news/video/one-familys-struggle-with-return-home-nj/#.VBzP4AFoQk0.facebook
Tyler spent 19 days in jail because DDD, state of NJ did not have a place for Tyler to go that could manage his behavior, and there was a moratorium on Returning to out of state placements. Tyler was stuck in a system that was unable to care for him, and couldn’t go back to a system that could care for him. He was placed by DDD in an Emergency capacity temporary group home. There were no psychiatric day programs in place since returning. DDD was not forthcoming in putting the pieces in place for a successful community setting. 30 minutes of getting to the Temporary Emergency Group home, the staff had also called the police, and Tyler was taken by the police to the hospital. (He was out of jail for 1 hour). The hospital held him in the ER until a bed was available at Trinitas Hospital. The one and only psych hospital in the state that will take an intellectually impaired person with autism.
Fight4autism, Johana Burke, ESQ. reached out and offered to help Tyler, and things have gotten so much better with the legal support we needed. Since fight4autism took on his case, Tyler is in a day program with a psychiatric focus, run by trained psychologists and staff. He is in a group home that has mental health trained staff who work well supporting Tyler’s needs. Tyler still has visits to the ER, and significant behavior, we have come a long way since being in jail. Thanks to fight4autism, who continue to monitor the state’s provisions of support services.
Tyler enjoys playing basketball. He loves tattoos, and has 2 of them. He loves Tigers. Tyler loves his family, consisting of his Mom, step father, and 2 younger brothers. He loves animals and wants to volunteer in an animal shelter. He is trying to find the right girlfriend.
He is my hero. He has been since the day he was born. He has taught me patience, and to stand up and fight. I am a better person for having him in my life. Rita O’Grady, RN.
In year 2016 Fight 4 Autism donated the following:
donated iPad -family in Ridgewood
donated $2000 toward yard fencing for family in Ridgewood
donated $1050 for two autistic children for respite care for family in Pompton Lakes
donated $500-Allendale family for independent speech evaluation
donated $500-Hawthorne family to pay for respite care
donated $500-Saddle Brook family to pay for after school therapies
donated $800-Hawthorne family to pay for hippo therapy
donated $500-Saddle Brook family to pay for after school therapies
donated $200-Pompton Lakes family to pay for after school therapies
donated $200-Hawthorne family to pay for after school therapy
donated $1350-Ridgewood family to pay for respite care
donated $2000-Hawthorne Public Schools to be used in Special Ed program
donated $750-Nutley family to pay for sensory gym therapy
donated $750-Hawthorne family to pay for music therapy
donated $600-Teaneck family to pay for respite care
donated $750-Hopatcong family for respite care
In year 2015 Fight 4 Autism donated the following:
donated iPad - family in Lodi
donated $900 for two autistic children for respite care for family in Pompton Lakes
donated iPad - family in Nutley
Fight 4 Autism
We can't thank Fight 4 Autism enough for all that they have done to help our son Mason. Mason is 5 years old and has autism. It has certainly been a long journey since he was a diagnosed a little before age 2, and we have a long road ahead of us. We want to give Mason the opportunity to live the most successful life possible. He is an amazing little boy! However, the cost of raising a child with autism certainly is not cheap... Everything from therapies, to equipment, to supplements etc ... It really adds up!! My husband is working two jobs so that I can be home and around for our little boy as he needs me much right now (as does his brother of course!) and Fight 4 Autism has helped us to give Mason some wonderful things.... an iPad to help with communication, and $2000 to help us put in a fence around our yard. Mason is now able to run freely around the yard with all the other neighborhood kids and we have never seen him happier! Thank you, Fight 4 Autism, for helping Mason succeed and for making his life better. You are amazing and we are incredibly grateful for all that you have done for our boy.
- Jamie England