Please join me in welcoming my friend Julie Hornok (Lizzie’s mom) to the TLP blog! She has graciously agreed to share Lizzie's story with us today!
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Picture this. You bring home a beautiful, healthy baby from the hospital. Your baby rolls over, sits up, and crawls right on schedule. She coos at you and looks lovingly into your eyes when you play with her. She adores her older brother and watches his every move. You are thankful for your beautiful family.
Your daughter has little quirks that you just adore. She flaps her hands when she gets excited, she flips through books for long periods of time, and never seems to ask much of you. You are thankful for her laid back nature.
As the months pass, you start to notice your child becoming more withdrawn. “I must not be spending enough quality time with her," you think. You enroll in a mommy and me gym class and vow to spend one-on-one, uninterrupted time with her each day. Somehow your efforts don’t seem to make a difference. Your child seems more and more distant. One morning, you wake up and realize you can’t reach her at all. Her body is right next to you, but her mind is somewhere else. You try desperately to reach her, to connect to her in any way; but she is missing and she doesn’t want to be found. Before long, she starts throwing tantrums all day long, bangs her head on the floor, talks to her hands with the same repetitive sounds, walks only on her tip-toes and won’t look at you even if you are standing right in front of her, screaming her name.
The diagnosis is clear…..AUTISM. Your world comes crashing down around you. What you once thought were her adorable quirks were actually just characteristics of a disorder. Your child is gone and you don’t know how to get her back! You sell your dream home and move to the best school district around. You pay the price of Harvard tuition each year in private therapy. You sacrifice your marriage, your mental health and time with your other children to pour yourself 150% into helping your child get better.
Unfortunately, this is not a hypothetical story. This happened to my family, to my sweet daughter, Lizzie. I wish our story was unique. I wish I was the only one I knew dealing with autism, but I am not. 1 in every 91 children will have a similar story and that number seems to be rising each year.
Autism puts an enormous amount of pressure on families. This disorder hits you in every way – physically, emotionally, and financially. The divorce rate is 80%! But, there is hope. There is hope for a child with autism to progress. There is hope for a child with autism to someday live a happy and productive life. There is even hope for a child with autism to fully recover! It is this hope that keeps these families going day after day when exhaustion has taken over. It is this hope that all of us – parents, family, and friends alike can grab a hold of and use to make a difference in these children’s lives.
The National Autism Association of North Texas is helping families right here in North Texas by:
• Raising money to go directly to help families dealing with autism in the North Texas area
• Using donations to educate and serve our community by holding educational seminars
• Giving grants to families for autism treatments
• Working with the law enforcement to ensure the safety of our kids
• Holding weekly parent support groups
***100% of the $75 photography fee will go directly to the National Autism Association of North Texas!!!***
Check out Lizzie’s video blog to see how she is doing now after intense early intervention.
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Thanks so much Julie, for sharing your heart, and your daughter with us - what a special young lady she is!
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In the next few weeks Julie will be back on our blog as a guest blogger to highlight several of the treatment options that have helped Lizzie over the years. You'll get an inside look at a few of the therapies that are available (as seen in this image below taken at Lizzie's Sensory Gymnastics class). We hope this will provide hope to families affected by autism as well as shed light on how the rest of us can rally around them in practical loving support.
Please note: There is still time to sign up for our "Minis for Lizzie" fundraiser event (see details in the previous post). Please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to reserve your spot. If you are unable to participate, we encourage you to consider making a donation to the NAA-NT. All session fees and personal donations will be made payable directly to NAA-NT and qualify as a charitable giving for tax purposes. Please contact us for more information.
It is an honor to partner with Lizzie and her family in this endeavor!