Life contains many humbling experiences. For my wife, ShaeBrie, and I the most humbling of all experiences occurred in March 2003. It was then that the word "autism" intruded upon our lives and forever altered our dreams and aspirations for our daughter, Jordynn. Jordynn is autistic. This disorder impairs her ability to make friends, express her ideas and process the world around her.
Autism knocks again:
Siblings of autistic children are 3-5 times more likely to be afflicted with autism. At the age of two our second daughter, Jocelynn, was diagnosed with autism as well. She too experienced delays in speech, language, and her social-emotional development. Although not as limited as her sister, Jocelynn works very hard to overcome the challenges associated with her disability.
Socialization has been the key:
While Jordynn and Jocelynn experienced success in school they had no friends and lived in social isolation. Being in self-contained classes with other children with social impairments (most of whom were boys) it was nearly impossible for friendships to form.
All that changed the summer in 2012 when Jordynn and Jocelynn attended a mainstream camp with the support of a 1:1 aid. Now the girls, as a result of the diverse socialization, demonstrate pro-social behavior and have forged meaningful friendships. After 2 years of participating in a "non-disabled" camp Jordynn and Jocelynn have both moved to less restrictive educational environments. Jocelynn has consistently made honor roll, plays soccer, and continues to learn how to navigate the social arena. Jordynn spends 40% of her day in the mainstream setting, and has enjoyed 2 seasons of track and cheer squad as well. None of this would have been possible without Jordynn and Jocelynn's camp experience.
Your help is needed:
The cost of the summer camp and providing the supports both girls need has been a struggle. At a cost of over $5000 per child it has been a huge financial challenge and called for many personal sacrifices on our part. The results we have witnessed, however, have been worth every penny! Seeing Jocelynn and Jordynn spontaneously engage in conversation with others, and establish meaningful friendships reinforces our decision to make the sacrifices we have. No longer are the girls relegated to a world of isolation. Over the past two summers we have achieved measurable and substantial gains beyond our expectations.
We want to continue the momentum we have started, but your help is needed to do so. Our goal is for our girls to be self-advocates who lead normal, happy, productive lives free from the barrier of social isolation. This fundraiser has been established to help defer some of the cost of this much needed experience. Without your help it would be impossible for us to continue. We sincerely appreciate any donation and welcome your contribution.