Letter from Lisa Ackerman, Founder
In September 1999, the word “autism” rang through my ears like a cannon shot across the bow. My husband and I knew something was not going well with our son Jeff, but we would have never guessed it was autism.
Following that fateful visit with the neurologist, we visited many other professionals including medical doctors, speech pathologists, audiologists, and behaviorists. The list seemed endless. The common message we were given: Autism has no hope, no cure. In fact, the first three medical doctors recommended that my family find “institutional placement” for Jeff who was the ripe old age of 2½ years at the time.
Refusing to give up on our son, my husband and I spent hundreds of hours talking to any and all parents of a child diagnosed with autism, reading dozens of recommended books, watching countless hours of educational videos, and of course, surfing the internet constantly. We were determined that our beloved son would grow far beyond his label and that he would have a future that was wonderful and amazing despite his autism diagnosis. Early on, the most important step for us was to GET BUSY. It was up to us, HIS PARENTS, to make a difference for his future.
The early days of our son’s diagnosis were frustrating. Those countless hours spent researching, reading, talking – wasn’t there a better way? Wasn’t there SOMEONE who had already done the same research and search for answers before, who could have brought us up-to-speed much sooner for us to help our son faster?
Fast forward to November 2000, when our daughter Lauren (at the advanced age of 16) recommended that we start a parent support group. Both my husband and I felt we were not qualified but we definitely wanted the company of other families going through the same struggles for social gatherings and to share information, especially new research and treatments options as they became available. We also hoped to build a community where parents would be inspired by each other’s steadfast hopes for their children’s futures and who would be passionate about autism education for themselves and other similarly struggling families and raising awareness in the general public.
TACA began with a small handful of families in a living room in 2000. Today, we serve well over 31,000 families around the United States. From a grassroots beginning in Southern California, TACA expanded nationwide and now has a physical presence via our Chapters in 19 states and a virtual presence in the rest of the nation.
Where is my son Jeff now? He is a teenager at a typical high school learning same curriculum as his typical peers with a great grade point average. He still has a part-time aide. He talks, makes jokes, gives out hugs, plays on the high school golf team, socializes with typical friends, and is an active member of the society with a bright future. He also happens to be the sweetest, kindest person I know and is practically always smiling. That is a far cry from his early diagnosis and the initial prognosis for his future.
TACA’s goal is to provide education, support, and information to parents to help their children diagnosed with autism be the very best they can be, with the hope of recovery.
Today, there are many, many treatment options that help alleviate many of the symptoms suffered by our children diagnosed with autism. Let us share our collective, hard-won knowledge and experience with your family so your child’s treatment can begin right away. Ask about the autism journey because we are families with autism who have already “been there and done that” with many of our children. Some of us are still working hard everyday with our children for whom we never give up hope. We are Families with Autism Helping Families with Autism.
The autism journey is not an easy one. It’s a marathon, not a sprint; so take each minute, hour, or day, one at a time. It will be difficult, but it will also be incredibly rewarding, because it will change your life, your family’s life, and most importantly, the lives of your children with autism to all enjoy a brighter future.
I wish all families treating and caring for their children with autism the very best possible outcomes for their children as they continue forward on the autism journey.
But more importantly, mom to Jeff and Lauren, and wife to Glen.