Two sisters, each with a son with autism. We had to approach motherhood completely differently than most moms. It was not always easy but we were determined. We found the positives and also the rewards in that. Now that both our boys are adults, we have a vision, a mission, a drive to assure that their lives will be fulfilled. It is our hope that we can provide resources, knowledge, and a forum for others who come after us. We hope this site will be a source of information, but more than that, information that leads to a desired outcome. A society that embraces autistic individuals as part of your community. Working & Living & Thriving. The possibilities are endless.
I am Janine. When my son Jackson was diagnosed with autism at two years old, it was a quick push into the world of intervention. My baby would no longer be cared for by just his parents. Almost immediately, doctors, therapists, teachers, and specialists entered. I was fortunately guided to be in a place that would prove to be the best for Jackson at that time and through his years in school.
Jackson, now in his early twenties, will enter the adult world. In the 90’s the rate of diagnosis was 1 in 150. Today it is 1 in 59. While that is alarming, the fact remains that all of those children diagnosed 20+ years ago are no longer babies, toddlers, or adolescents. They are adults and they are Here With Us.
This last year as I consider this new transition, I began to identify what was most important on my list of criteria for Jackson to make his debut into the adult world. A place that was safe. A place that promoted calm, acceptance, and inclusion. A place that gave respect and kept dignity as a priority. These are the things that mattered to me. I imagined that these things would be first and foremost in any parent of a young adult with autism’s thoughts.
With that in mind, this foundation was created with this unique population in mind, to identify existing organizations that may be enhanced by funding and knowledge. We will encompass all areas of socialization, recreation, education, vocation, and housing.
To serve those that are Here with Us.
I am Marlayne. My son, Gian, was born in 1990 at thirty-one weeks and, from the very beginning, we noticed differences in how he interacted with the world. We took him for auditory and genetic testing, as well as doing our own research. By the time he was eighteen months old, he was diagnosed as a person with autism.
In the early 90’s, far less early intervention was available. Doctors told us there was no way to anticipate Gian’s “intelligence level.” We decided to enroll Gian in preschool alongside his sister, who is physically disabled. When he was ready to begin elementary school, Gian attended a BOCES school where he should have remained until the age of twenty-one. However, he was released at eighteen due to behavioral problems. His school told us they had “come to the end of the road” with him and no day programs were available to him. So he stayed home with me as his primary caregiver. His boredom broke my heart.
In 2011, I discovered Without Walls, a self directed program that centered around support staff coming to our home and taking Gian into the community. While he was one of the first one hundred people to receive this kind of program, it is now one of the most popular ways of aiding adults requiring support. Gian has always struggled with aggression and anxiety and so has never really connected with his peers. Until this year, with my sister’s encouragement, when he’s tried social classes like yoga, art, and Zumba, with his cousin, Jackson, and other local young adults.
For Gian’s future, I want to create an environment where he is calm, peaceful, and happy; a place where he can have friends and, hopefully, be with his cousin, safe and loved. My sister and I are looking forward into the future, wishing and working for a secure, happy life for our sons and others.