“What it's like to be a parent: It's one of the hardest things you'll ever do but in exchange it teaches you the meaning of unconditional love.”
― Nicholas Sparks, The Wedding
Our journey of love began 14 years ago when our son Tommy came into our lives. It has been an interesting journey and a pretty rollercoaster ride indeed, but we can honestly say that we are beyond blessed to have him in our lives and to have him show us each day the meaning of unconditional love. He has helped pave the way for us to open our minds and hearts to others and be more caring and embracing of everything the world around us has to offer.
That journey has grown and expanded each day with the introduction into our lives of individual after individual who is on the autism spectrum as well as their siblings, parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles and even support staff. The heart truly is a muscle that can expand because with each new person that enters our 'family', it grows.
Autism is a complex neuro-biological condition that has significantly grown in prevelance in the last two decades. This past year, The Centers for Disease Control elevated the rates to 1 in 88 children, with 1 in 54 boys in the US being diagnosed somewhere on that spectrum. In our own state of PA, that number is even higher at 1 in 75 children. A new case is diagnosed every 20 minutes. Our approach at The Tommy Foundation and that of our friends at Lancaster County Autism Mommies is to truly embrace the entire famiy unit and help ameliorate many of the challenges that come with the diagnosis of autism. With events like Sensitive Santa, Students for Autism Club's buddy program, soccer program, upcoming theater workshops, trainings for parents, opportunities for siblings and more, we truly hope to make hearing the words "your child has autism" a less scary prospect and turn the idea of this being a tragedy into this just is, and I now just need to find a way to connect with my loved one and help them be the best them they can be.
We hope that many of our friends and family wil choose to join us on this journey this year and if you are at a distance that you will still play a role by contributing to this cause that affects us every minute of every day--not just because of our own son but because of this entire autism family that we have come to embrace and hold dear over the last 6 years.
Hugs and many blessings to all!
Rich, Sugey and Tommy