By: Tonya Jackson
Do you know what autism is? Autism speaks.org says, “Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and autism are both general terms for a group of complex disorders of brain development. These disorders are characterized, in varying degrees, by difficulties in social interaction, verbal and nonverbal communication and repetitive behaviors.” The information contained in those two sentences is more than two local mothers knew when they were told their children had autism.
April is a mother of twins, Parker and Deuce, with autism. Her fraternal twins were born at 26 weeks, and she was warned they would have developmental delays. When she noticed some differences in her babies from other babies she just attributed those differences to those developmental challenges. It wasn’t until she saw a speech therapist that she heard the word autism used to describe her children. When she did her research, she learned, “If there was a list of ten things, between the two of them I could check off nine on the list. As I continued to read, I discovered there is no known cure. I just wanted to find out how to make it go away, but I couldn’t make it go away.”
April was warned her children would have challenges, but this news was very unexpected and caused her to change her view of autism. She recalled that when she was a teenager one of her friends had an adoptive brother who displayed odd behavior. “When I asked, ‘girl, what’s wrong with him?’ I was told, ‘he has autism, his momma used to smoke crack.’ So years later to have autism used to describe my children, I was like, ‘I didn’t smoke crack!’”
Her research helped her get a better understanding and allowed her to learn ways to help her children lead productive lives. Today the twins, 14 are doing well in school with her daughter, Parker, the more social of the two. “Deuce is very independent, very helpful. People always remark on how well behaved they are. They have a very unique bond. I can’t think of a time where they have ever had an argument with each other. They are always considerate of each other. You are not going to give Deuce something and not give him enough to bless his sister.”
Another mother who is dealing with autism is Ann Richard. Richard took her son’s diagnosis and created a foundation in his honor, The King Richard Foundation, Inc. Founded in 2010 The King Richard Foundation is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization dedicated to serving individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorders, and other Developmental Disabilities and their families. According to Richard, “We want to bring autism awareness to everyone and help those people who sometimes fall between the cracks. Our son was attending a summer camp for children with autism, when we saw the look on his face and how much joy he got from attending this camp we wanted to help other families bring this same joy to their children. Now each year our organization can send children to summer camp.
“One of the ways we support our foundation is our annual autism fundraiser ‘Beauty by the Bay.’ This fashion show features our local Greeks modeling the latest fashions and a delicious dinner. This year we will have our seventh fashion show. It will be at 3:00 pm on Sunday, May 15th at the Sanders Beach-Corinne Jones Community Center. Each ticket purchased supports our ‘Send a Kid to Camp’ program benefiting children with autism and other developmental disabilities. Tickets are $35.00 and are available at It’s Personal by Sheila and Me & Moms Hair Care. Anyone interested in more information can also contact me at 850-944-9408.”
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