Dear friends and family,
I'm gearing up again for the Flutie Foundation Ride for Autism, and am hoping that I can count on your financial support this year. I rode it last year, and with the help of many of you, raised $500 to benefit the cause. I'm starting a little late this year, but still hoping to match last year's total, or possibly exceed it.
As many of you know, I ride a lot – about 3,500 miles a year, mostly bike commuting plus the occasional recreational ride – but this ride is special. It's a charity bike ride to benefit a cause that is near and dear to me and my family: autism.
Most of you know our son Julian. For those who don't, he was diagnosed with autism at about age two-and-a-half. Our journey since then has been increadibly challenging, but with the help of family, friends, charities, and an array of government services, he is getting better all the time.
Despite his challenges (he verbal communication is extremely limited and he's prone to a lot of "stimming") he is a beautiful kids who loves to cuddle, run around naked, horse play, and is great with his little sister... and much to our amazement, has a newfound appreciation for building elaborite Lego model sets.
He can sit for an hour straight and assemble a 250 piece set with only minimal assistance. But typical of autism, he takes the pictoral instructions very literally... to the point that when destroying and reassembling one, he insists on taking the stickers off and reattaching them to match the steps in the manual.
The past few months have been good, but it hasn't always been this way. The great low point in our journey was his head injury in fall of 2009. At the time, he was throwing frequent fits and banging his head on anything he could reach... walls, floors, door jams, etc. Eventually, his self-injury lead to brain surgery to releave bleading in his skull. For about a year after the surgery, he had a wear a helmet most of the time because he continued to bang his head from time to time.
There have been ups and downs on this journey, and I'm glad to let everyone know that the last several months have been a major up period. His self-injury has almost completely stopped. I think it's been 4+ months since he's tried to hit his head. His communication is getting better. He used PECS for many years, laminated photos of various objects, as a way of communicating what he wanted. Now though, he's frequently asking for things verbally... "I want pasta" or "I want DVD."
We've been fortunate to get him into a great school. It's a non-profit school out in Natick with 1-to-1 ratios of therapists / teachers to students, but the local school system pays for him to go there. We get another 20 or so hours of support at home, including occupational therapists and others provided through a combination of government and private insurance.
He also is a part of a regular play group for special needs kids, started by Daria, but now run by a group of volunteer students from Brandeis University down the street. He has participated in other programs such as an ice-skating program out in Concord for kids with autism.
Throughout this entire journey, we've had help from friends, family, numerous government agencies, and charitable organizations... All of which have helped make the great progress he has made possible. He still has a long way to go. Communication is hard for him, and he has loads of sensory and stimming issues, but we will continue to forge ahead as a family.
Today, I hope you will consider making a gift to support my participation in this Flutie Foundation Ride for Autism. Raising $500 is really a small way that I can give back for all the help that we have received. You gift today toward my fundraising goal is much appreciated.
Brian Miller and the fam (Daria, Julian, and Ani)