Be with us
We've learned a lot this past year, and one of the most important things in our lives is our team of friends and family. Our family faces daily struggles that are both exhausting and unimaginable to many. On rough days, it can be isolating and hard. When we feel the love and support of our team surrounding us, it makes our challenging moments more bearable and our easier days even more awesome. We choose to live each day to the fullest and strive to give both our kids a typical childhood with lots of love, laughs, fun and memories. Our friends and family have helped make this a reality by both supporting and being by our sides. Thank you - we appreciate each one of you tremendously!
Last year, Kate ran her very first 5k at this race, inspired by Austin's daily struggles and the progress he has made. We are hoping to inspire you to run your first 5k with us this year. Or if you are a 5k veteran, come join us for a fun race around the UNCA campus as well. If running is not your thing, there is also a 1 mile fun walk that you can participate in as well. If you are not physically able (or are on a budget) just come out on that day and be with us - this would mean a lot to our family! Austin absolutely adores having his very own team at the event - and appreciates you all more than you can imagine! The love and support from each one of you is what makes our family's hearts full! :)
We always knew there was something unique about our beautiful little boy, Austin. From a very young age, he struggled in daycares, group activities, crowds and in many other everyday places. He was super sensitive to noises, smells and certain lights. Austin's temper would go from calm to aggressive in a heartbeat, often for no apparent reason. He had trouble sitting still and focusing on anything but trains and the iPad. He loved to play by himself and only seemed to enjoy certain textures of food (meat!). Austin was falling behind with social, behavioral and academic development. He struggled to stay successful in daycares. We never knew what his reaction would be to any situation, and, as a family, we adapted around his needs the best we could. We kept hearing "he's fine" or "he just needs some time to catch up", but his daily struggles kept getting worse...
In September 2015, Austin was diagnosed with Autism (high functioning), as well as ADHD. Getting the Autism diagnosis was actually a huge relief because we thought we were going to finally be able to access the help we needed. But we realized we were both empowered by this knowledge and bewildered because we had to determine his path on our own since there is no set treatment. We quickly found out that our insurance did not cover much related to Autism - and the bills for pediatric developmental doctors, OT, psychologists were astronomical. Within a few weeks after the diagnosis, Austin was asked to leave his daycare and was placed on waitlists at the only two daycares in our county that could 'handle' him. These daycares had no openings and said they probably wouldn't for years - there were just too many kids with special needs that also needed care. We ended up having to hire a nanny until we figured out our next steps. We scoured the internet for weeks, reached out to other special needs parents, made tons of calls to various organizations and Dr. offices, etc. trying to find help... We kept finding information about ABA therapy and how it's the only therapy proven to help kids like Austin, but could not find anywhere that would work with two full-time working parents... we were spinning our wheels, and not getting anywhere…
... and then we found St. Gerard House in Hendersonville, NC. We had no idea what it was at the time but Andy called to see if we could get a tour of the Grotto Center. The school has 1:1 constant ABA therapy for 3-7 year olds with a goal of full integration into a typical classroom. The minute we walked in, Austin had a total meltdown and we immediately felt the love and support of everyone that works there. For the first time ever, we, as a family, felt like we belonged and fit in somewhere. Austin started school there in December 2015 and has made tremendous progress. They work with him daily on focusing, academics, social goals, etc. We are thankful for St. Gerard House everyday. Austin still and will always have struggles, but he is learning and growing through the barriers that have kept him from learning and making friends in the past. Because of the tremendous growth Austin has achieved, he will attend Kindergarten at Immaculata Catholic School with a 1:1 shadow from St. Gerard House in August of this year. We are looking forward to this next step tremendously - Austin is counting down the days! Kindergarten, here Austin comes!!! :)
The Autism Society of North Carolina is the leading statewide resource organization serving people across the autism spectrum throughout their lifespans.
We understand the challenges of the autism community because we work with individuals on the autism spectrum and their families every day. We offer advocacy, training and education, and direct care that helps individuals with autism to, increase their social and communication skills, develop independent-living skills, succeed in school or on the job, participate in community activities, and advocate for themselves.
We have a statewide network of resources, connecting individuals with autism and their families to life-changing programs and supports unavailable anywhere else.