Dear Family and Friends,
I want to share with you my story of despair, determination and hope. This is a story of a mom who, like many moms, will go to the end of the earth and back for her children. This is also the story of a little girl with a big heart and an infectious smile who continues to overcome many daily challenges.
Two years ago 1 in 150 children were diagnosed with autism. Today 1 in 88 will be diagnosed with autism. One of those children is a girl who lives in our home and her name is Crysta. Never in a million years would I have thought I would have a child with autism. This could never happen to my family because those things happen to "other people." Crysta was born a healthy baby. I always did the "right things" with regard to living a healthy lifestyle and taking care of my body.
Within six months of age, Crysta started to change. She was sick with chronic ear infections, food allergies and constipation. She was not meeting her developmental milestones. In March of 2007, my world turned upside down. Crysta was diagnosed with autism after countless visits to specialists who could not give us reasons for her developmental delays. She was almost five years old.
I spent many sleepless nights trying to figure out what to do for her. I spent many days crying for the loss of what I had always envisioned my life to be. It was a very dark time for our family. We felt all alone and helpless. Fortunately, Talk About Curing Autism (TACA) was there to support us every step of the way. They educated us about treatments and therapies, such as Applied Behavior Analysis Therapy (ABA), that are helping children with autism be the best they can be.
After Crysta's diagnosis, I was told to try a special diet and to put her on supplements. I asked the question, "You want me to do what?" I was not sure I had it in me to implement a special diet that was "inconvenient" and in my mind hard to do. Then I thought to myself, "What do I have to lose?" I did not want to think back down the road that I should have done more to help her. When I told people about what I was doing, I was ridiculed by some of them. Many thought I had completely "lost it" and at one point, I was even thinking that myself.
I came to the realization that I had to listen to my "mommy instincts." I had to do something because I had a five-year old child that was still in diapers and could not tallk. She preferred to play alone and would wander down the street while the other kids played in the backyard. She would act out wildly by hitting and biting herself and screaming. She acted like a "walking zombie."
Guess what? Within a year of Crysta starting a full-time ABA therapy program, and implementing a gluten/caesin free diet, with adding supplements to help with digestion, nutrient absorption and detoxification, Crysta began to change. She started talking and coming back into our world! The future is brighter for her. She continues to improve every year. Those people who had questioned what I was doing are now my biggest supporters because they can see how far Crysta has come.
This past year, Crysta started attending a typical first grade classroom. It is there that she made her first true friend named Lydia. Her parents did not even know that Crysta had autism until they met our family. This is a huge achievement because up until now, no one ever came knocking on the door to see if Crysta could play. She wants to have play dates and sleepovers like her sister Alexa.
She is now asking higher cognitive questions. The other day she asked, "What does a layover mean?", when we we getting ready to fly out for spring break. Her favorite question to ask is, "What are we doing on Saturday mommy?" Cyrsta loves to swim and help with cooking. She participates in cheerleading like her sister Alexa. This spring, she is doing baseball with her dad. He was so proud that she hit the ball on her own without assistance at one of the last games.
I hope to be able to say at some point that she is reading and writing. I am working hard to get her there. She may need to use some assistive technology to help her to write because of her severe muscle tone. Thank God for computer technology, velcro and snaps! One big accomplishment this year is that she drew her first self portrait at school and was able to say and trace some sentences to describe herself!
This experience has changed me to the core. My spark is back. I do not take things for granted any more. I take things day by day. I am now a co-coordinator of the TACA Indiana Chapter. I want to "pay it forward" and help other families who are beginning their autism journey. My story is what many moms around the country are experiencing because every 20 seconds a child is diagnosed with autism. TACA is an organization of families with autism helping families with autism.
I am asking you to please consider making a 100% tax-deductible donation, in honor of Crysta, to TACA for the 2011 Family and Friends Campaign. The TACA Family and Friends Campaign helps raise awareness about autism and helps to raise funds for the TACA chapters across the country. My goal this year is to try to raise $10,000 for the local TACA Indiana Chapter by June 30, 2012.
No donation is too small. Any amount you wish to give is very much appreciated. Donating through this website is simple, fast and totally secure. You can donate online at http://www.firstgiving.com/fundraiser/cecilia-coble. It is also the most efficient way to support my fundraising efforts.
Howvever, if you wish to write a check, please make it payable to TACA and send the check to TACA Family and Friends Campaign, c/o Cecilia Coble, 2222 Martin Street, Suite 140 Irvine, CA 92612.
To find more information about TACA, you can go to www.tacanow.org. As always, please send families touched by autism my way. I would be happy to help. For decades autism was viewed as a hopeless disorder. Thanks to TACA, families like ours have hope for their children.
I appreciate all the love, prayers, encouragement and support you have provided for Crysta and my family since we publicly shared our story.
Please don't forget to forward this to anyone who you think might want to donate to TACA.
With all my love, deepest appreciation and gratitude,