New charity fund supports families dealing with autism
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Mercy Options technician Amber Wroblewski works with Isaiah Hoesling, 5, during a recent home session. Isaiah has an autism spectrum disorder, but has made big strides through a variety of treatment. The new Autism Support Fund through the Mercy Foundation aims to help area families with the costs of resources, classes and equipment for children with autism spectrum disorders. Terry Mayer photo.
DELAVAN -- It was his aunt’s birthday party, an understandably joyous affair with lots of other children running around. Everyone, that is, except Isaiah Hoesling.
The boy stood in the corner, occasionally making baby sounds and odd facial expressions, subsequently finding his way under a table. Awkward and alone, the youth was unwilling, and in his mind, unable, to associate with others.
(Read all of this week's stories from Walworth County Sunday HERE. )
Turn the pages of the Hoesling family’s trying journey forward two years. On Dec. 3, the youngster, now age 5, was schmoozing for a photographer, creating holiday crafts and confidently writing letters of the alphabet on queue and in rapid succession -- and he and his mother, Sara, couldn’t keep from smiling.
Those associated with the Mercy Foundation are hoping to bring smiles to other families coping with autism spectrum disorders, especially because the cost of additional resources, classes and equipment can be overwhelming. To that end, the foundation started the Autism Support Fund.
“We are the fundraising arm of Mercy Health System, so our purpose is to create community and philanthropic goals and opportunities to support healing throughout our communities,” said Jennifer Johns, Mercy Foundation’s director of development.
The important thing right now is to increase awareness about the autism fund.
“We want families that may qualify to go ahead and apply, and that process begins Jan. 1,” Johns said. “We’ve finished one round and had eight applicants without any real publicity. Each quarter the application process is open for a month (see accompanying graphic on page 8).”
In-home treatment and various therapies often are covered by insurance and/or government programs. However, many autistic children require additional resources, classes and equipment for which there is limited outside funding. The ASF makes financial resources available for things such as social skills classes, sensory and safety equipment, respite care and therapeutic materials.
The Hoeslings have been paying about $1,500 in out-of-pocket treatment expenses for Isaiah the last two years, but they will get a $500 grant through the ASF and the same amount from the Friends of Autism group for 2013, a big deal for a stay-at-home mom who also has a 9-month-old daughter.
The value of such treatment is priceless to the family, whose current situation is a stark contrast to a few years ago, when Isaiah hadn’t been diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder yet.
Read the complete story in the Dec. 16 print or e-edition of Walworth County Sunday.