TC Autism is Making a Difference!

What is TC Autism doing in your community?

Read these real-life success stories of families finding resources and hope.

Seamus O.'s Story

Seamus is truly a blessing - he spreads happiness wherever he goes, finds joy in the small things and loves unconditionally. In addition to the blessings that come with raising a son with autism, there is a large financial burden that comes with it. This summer, we were fortunate enough to receive a scholarship from the Twin Cities Autism Foundation that allowed us to send Shay to autism camp. As a single mom living on a teaching salary, sending Shay to camp would not have been a possibility without the Twin Cities Autism Foundation.

Words cannot express how much we appreciated this opportunity. Seamus has an expressive language disorder and struggles with social interactions - though summer is a much needed time to unwind and relax, the skills he learns during the school year can quickly regress and camp gave him the opportunity to not only keep practicing his social skills, but to interact in new and exciting settings. Months later, Seamus is still talking about his time at camp and the new activities he tried out like the ropes course and tubing.

Camp not only benefited Seamus, but gave his brother and I time to recharge. Raising a child with autism can be overwhelming at times, not just for the parent but also the sibling. Seamus is blessed with a brother that is always ready to help or adapt to situations to make Seamus feel comfortable - he does this without question and has said he wouldn’t change a thing, but it was nice to know that Seamus was somewhere safe and well cared for so that his brother could relax too. The generosity of the Twin Cities Autism Foundation has lasting impacts on the child with autism as well as the families they have helped - we are so lucky to be one of them!

Big Thanks from White Bear Lake Schools!

It has been such a pleasure to work with the Olson's and Twin Cities Autism over the past year.

White Bear Lake Schools received donations through a partnership with Dell Software and Twin Cities Autism. Through these donations our Autism Teachers in White Bear Lake received some needed wish list items. Twin Cities Autism was also a giant resource partnering with our district for an individual student and family in financial need. We are thrilled with this new relationship, and can not wait to grow this wonderful community resource for staff and families. Thank you to the Olson's and the entire TCAF team!!

- Kristen J

Sheletta B.'s Story

My son was awarded a scholarship from the Twin Cities Autism Foundation to attend a week long summer camp this year. This opportunity means the world to my family. Without the generous assistance of the Twin Cities Autism Foundation, our family could not afford to send Brandon to this camp. You see, we have four children, three of them have been diagnosed with autism. So every dollar that we get goes to pay for therapy, prescriptions and doctor visits. We don't have any money for fun stuff like summer camps.

But a fun week long summer camp is just what the doctor ordered for my little Brandon. He struggles with social anxiety and interacting with new friends is a difficult task for him. Going to a summer camp like this one would help him overcome those challenges head on. Additionally, Brandon is quite fearful of most things. The smallest things that are normal to most people frightens him to no end. But after a camp like this one for an entire week, Brandon will be ready to take on the world without fear or hesitation. The daily activities will help him gain confidence in his abilities to do new things and meet new people. Those skills will turn into strengths in the classroom. Where he was fearful to talk to people, this camp will help prepare him for getting up in front of his classmates to present an item for show-and-tell or go to the board at a teacher's instruction and work on a math problem. Attending this camp would be a great benefit to Brandon and I see great things in his future after completing it. Thank you so much for making this experience happen for my son and for our family.

Matthew B.'s Story

We want to thank you for your contribution that made it possible for our son Matthew to attend camp discovery. Matthew had a wonderful time at camp this year. Without your contribution we would not have been able to afford to send Matthew to camp and give him this experience with such amazing memories.

Matthew had so much fun that he only called me once this year and the first time he attended camp he called me everyday. Matthew really enjoyed meeting people and making new friends. I don't really know how to tell you how important this was for Matthew. After his first time going to camp so many family and friends expressed what a difference they saw in Matthew and how much he opened up socially so for him to be able to go again this year just meant the world to us and we owe that to you and your generosity. Thank you again.

Aubrey P.'s Story

Without your foundations generosity I would not have been able to attend Autism Camp this summer. Without the Twin Cities Autism Foundation, I would have not discovered my love of fishing and canoeing. I had a great time making arts and crafts, spending time in nature looking for butterflies and making new friends. The thing I loved most about camp is the opportunity to be with others that have Autism, as this made me feel that I wasn’t alone.

Barbara P.'s Story

It's not easy parenting a child with autism. So many things that other parents take for granted are not even options for you. In a lot of cases, you look at things other kids do and - just know, it's not worth the battle. You get very selective on the activities and environments you even try to make your kid handle. And yet you still try. We did everything from baseball to basketball to tae kwon do, summer camp with MAJOR pre-meetings and strategies with staff and - lots of field trips I was "asked" to attend as a personal chaperone.

In 6th grade, they pulled Zander from all music and arts classes in school in order to give "autism services" and "sensory break" time. Outside enrichment was up to me. We tried beginning piano lessons, hoping he might at least have a positive experience with music. Then, in 9th grade, he started finding sheet music to his favorite songs from his video games and trying to teach them to himself. This love of video game music opened a door in him: he started taking music classes in school and even started writing music. He went to one composition camp and the teachers invited him to a more advanced program, Junior Composers, and offered him a full scholarship!

The first year at Junior Composers was a struggle - new environment, new people, but he persevered and wrote a nice piece. And he caught the bug. He kept composing. He went back the following year for the two week camp - on scholarship again - He has been on a gap year as he prepares for college. His functioning continues to be a struggle every day, and he was not able to do a lot of the things he'd hoped to accomplish at the beginning of the year. But composition was a key focus: he took lessons from one of the teachers who originally took him under their wing.The thought of going back to Junior Composers for another session to really dive into this special environment with peers who have music in common, has now become a highlight of the year for this young man. But this year they could only provide $500 of the $2100 needed for the two week camp.

I sent in the $200 deposit on a wing and a prayer. We figured, there has to be support out there for this young man to get this training, this enrichment, and this chance to form relationships with other young people who share this same interest - maybe even make friends. I was just looking at the deadline looming for the rest of the money to pay for the camp, when I got an unexpected call from Kent Olson from the Twin Cities Autism Foundation offering Zander a scholarship. I have been teared up at my desk on and off thinking about it, knowing that without these funds, Zander might not have been able to go. Thank you for seeing him, for seeing his special gift, and for recognizing the opportunity to make a real difference. Our request was a bit outside of TCAF's usual giving focus: this was for a high level composition camp, not technically for autism services, but the choice to give a young person with autism the support to reach for their true potential in one of the special gifts they really have - is a visionary decision. Thank you, thank you TCAF for making this possible for my son.

Jo-Ann S's Story

Our life changed drastically in April this year. Our ten year old's school suggested that we consider having him assessed for what we thought was 'extreme shyness.' We were extremely shocked when the results came back that he was on the spectrum. Our child had autism....we were devastated, and even worse, we were clueless. We had no idea where to turn or what to do. Our lives would never be the same. One of our friends who has an autistic son suggested contacting Autism Society and I'm so glad that we did. We were provided with a great deal of information including the summer classes. We joined and decided to sign our son up for the Como Zoo Global Adventure class.

However, these classes were completely out of our budget. We thought we would not be able to do it. Then we heard about the Twin Cities Autism Foundation and that they provide a yearly scholarship to assist members. We were so, so happy to hear this! Our son loves animals so much, especially tigers. He talks about them all the time and we knew that it would be a special treat for him to be able to see them and all the other animals as the zoo. After the year he had had, we thought he needed a special treat and this class would be perfect. We applied for the scholarship anxiously, hoping that all would go well, and that we would be approved and we were! We were ever so grateful. (We would never have been able to afford this class on our own and our son would have missed out on a class of his dreams). We showed up for the first day of his summer class and our son was so, so shy and withdrawn that we worried that he would not be able to enjoy it. However, at the end of class that day, he was soooooo excited! He spent the long drive home telling me everything and I do mean EVERYTHING that had happened!

I was so impressed with the amount of knowledge he had gained. I learned quite a lot from him that I hadn't known before. Our son got to go behind the scenes and meet animals face to face as well. He even started making friends! Our shy son said that he couldn't wait to go back the next day and that he wanted to go to that camp again next summer! He was bouncing with excitement and happiness! I was amazed and so thankful that tears came to my eyes. You see, we had been having such a difficult time since learning about his diagnosis. There were many tears and sleepless nights. We needed this, we really did. Seeing our precious boy's face light up with pure joy was a balm to our heart. We would not have been able to have him experience this if it wasn't for the generous contributions made by the Twin Cities Autism Foundation. We are so very grateful to all the persons who donate to this wonderful foundation. Please know that you are impacting and changing lives.