Our son Judah was diagnosed with autism at 20 months of age. Even with a lifetime growing up around children and adults with autism because of my mother's job, it was a difficult thing for me to process. My wife and I decided to leave my job in Kansas City and move to Alabama so we could enroll Judah in ILEAP at Arts 'n Autism. We did so and he started in January of this year.
This January, Judah was nonverbal. He didn't make transitions well, hold our hands, point to show us things, or play with toys and others appropriately.
Within a few weeks, he started saying a few words. By summer, my wife recorded this video for me:
Judah has thrived in the ILEAP program. I believe wholeheartedly that his entire future has been changed because of the staff at Arts 'n Autism. He is happy, affectionate, brilliant, and communicative. We owe all of this to ILEAP. But when I think of how his life has been transformed by early intervention, I also think of all the other children who are unable to access programs like this one, and how detrimental that is for their future.
ILEAP is a program that will likely always be at capacity because so many families need this service and Arts 'n Autism doesn't turn anyone away due to their ability to pay or not. This is why it is so critical that people give generously to Arts 'n Autism. They have already expanded from two days every week to three, then four to meet the needs of the area, and this has been possible due to the generosity of donors.
The trajectory of my son's life has been transformed by ILEAP. I am so grateful for this program and so thankful for every employee and volunteer at Arts 'n Autism who have been part of Judah's life.