When Help Autism Center was first founded, the word “autism” was usually meant with blank stares.
…So we decided to put our boots on and Stomp Out the Silence!
We knew back then that the call for help was a real SOS emergency to help families like Brian’s below. But even though many people have started talking about autism, the challenge still lies ahead to HELP AUTISM.
Meet the Inspiration Behind Help Autism Center!
The boy pictured here is Brian Thomas, the affectionate and loving eighteen-year-old and grandson of Brian Hall. Little Brian loves to get hugs and kisses. His version of a hug is to lean against a person, and he puckers his lips to give his very special kisses.
Young Brian loves to be a part of things and be around people, but he does not know how to do the things that kids his age are able to do. He will watch others, but his speech is developmentally delayed, preventing him from joining in unless someone else is there to help him. What is – for most people – a simple process of telling someone what you see is missing from Brian’s world.
Brian’s mother is currently trying to prepare his 18-to-21 year old transition services with the school district. In 2008, Brian finally received his Children’s Extensive Support (CES) waiver.
Young Brian attended the Alpine Autism Center in Colorado Springs in 2008 and has been on the wait list for ongoing help ever since. He attends speech, physical, and occupational therapy and is seeing a behavioral specialist. He is learning sign language to help him express himself when words fail him.
However, in 2014, Brian was hospitalized and underwent a severe regression in his behavioral abilities and his ability to communicate via sign language. His mother is extremely worried about what services will be available for Brian when he turns 21. Currently, Medicaid covers the cost of this treatment and school district paid for Brian to attend the Alpine Autism Center during the 2008 school year. Unfortunately, once young Brian reaches 21 years of age, that coverage ends.
The Problem Affects Many Families
Until recently, children like Brian were considered mentally retarded, with no hope for normal speech or behavior.
And many children and adults with Autism require 24/7 “line-of-sight” care. Given that Medicaid coverage for this care ends when the child reaches 21 years of age, families such as Brian’s find themselves on waiting lists for basic living services and family support services. These vulnerable individuals and their families are in crisis, resulting in extraordinary stress, bankruptcies, and high rates of divorce.
One Family Decides to Help
The idea for Stomp Out the Silence of Autism & Disabilities, Inc. came to Brian’s grandparents, Brian and Marti Hall, when they talked to their friend Gregg Whelen about young Brian’s uncertain future and other families with autism facing a lack of resources. Gregg, who runs an assisted living facility for mentally challenged adults in Denver, Colorado, saw a need for a similar type of facility for adults with autism. Together, they decided to start Help Autism Center, to help fund and provide services for families in Colorado with members who have special needs.