My wife Carolyn and I got the official diagnosis in March, 2007. Autism.
Now we know….
Our son Joshua was two and a half at the time, and we were both thrown into a situation that we knew almost nothing about. Through many avenues, we pieced together what we were dealing with and what we had to do. It was not easy, but what was the alternative? We were not going to watch our son slowly drift away and possibly enter a place where we had no hope of getting him back.
The therapy begins….
It took a few false starts, but we finally found the right people and the right place for Joshua to begin his journey back to us. The cost did not matter. We were going to make it happen, whatever the cost. Everyone has a number with autism. For our family it was $37,500 per year, a huge number. We were, and still are fortunate enough to have an insurance policy that pays the majority of the cost, but the deductible is still a really big number.
Then, there was transportation. We had to get Joshua to and from therapy three days per week, in the middle of the work day, on the other side of town. How do we do this? It didn’t matter; we had to make it work.
Joshua is on his way back!
The first major breakthrough for us was the picture schedule. Genius! This one thing was worth the price of admission. We could now communicate with our son! From there, anything was possible. Things steadily got better. Each day, each week, each month, things improved. We were coming out of autism and had it figured out. Things were great!
Then comes the day I will never forget. Much like any other day at therapy, I am sitting in the waiting area waiting to pick up my son. The phone rings and the receptionist answers. I’m not one to listen to others private conversations, but I was only hearing one side and had no idea who the person was on the other end.
The gist of the conversation was that the clinic had prescribed three therapy sessions per week, but the caller could only afford one session per week. The receptionist politely let the caller know that they would not waste the family’s limited resources as they could not effectively treat their child with one session per week. The caller then seemed to plead for help, but the receptionist apologized and restated that one day of therapy was not enough.
The call ended, but I could not get it out of my mind. I don’t know what happened to that child or that family, but right there in that waiting room it hit me like a sledge hammer. I had to do something. I had to help.
I mentally put myself in the situation of that caller for a brief moment, but it was too painful. Just think of it… My child needs help and I am powerless to do anything.
That was it!
I went home and talked to Carolyn that night. We started out fundraising for a large national proponent for autism that year. We contacted everyone we could think of and raised a lot of money. We were thrilled, but there was something missing. We felt like we were dancing around the edges.
Finally it hit us. We needed to do more. We began to plan. We evaluated organizations that were helping those with autism and found our opening. We organized a group of our supporters, as well as others in the same situation, and formed a foundation.
Imagine A Way…
Our mission is clear. Statistically, the opportunity to have the greatest impact on a child with autism is between the ages of 2 and 6. While help and support slowly improve through legislation, children are entering and leaving this window of time without obtaining the help and resources they need at the point in time when it is most critical.
Fast forward to today, November 29, 2010...
My birthday is December 1, but my present came early this year. When I picked Joshua up from therapy, his therapist told me that during their session, they asked him what he wanted to be when he grew up. His answer… “I want to be like my Daddy.” Wow! What a gift!
A gift we are intent on sharing…
With the help of our friends, our partners, and our fellow board members, we will make a difference, one child, one family at a time…
Imagine A Way!
Joel and Carolyn Price