Hi, friends. We are Stan and Dana Butler. We live in Highlands Ranch, Colorado, with our kiddos, Isaac (7), and Maia (4).
As a family, we've found ourselves in the last 6 - 8 weeks at a genuine crisis point, and that's our reason for launching this GoFundMe campaign -- which we've never in a bazillion years dreamed we'd do.
I'll try to explain.
We've known for some time that both our children have special needs, and we've been providing treatment and obtaining resources for them as we've been able for going on 3 years now.
But over the last 8 or 9 months (and then still more in the last 2 - 3) those needs have become so intense that they are dramatically impacting our family's ability to simply function in day-to-day life. As in... (and this is so hard to say out loud)... we can't actually keep going like this.
Our Kids' Needs
Our sweet Isaac has several diagnoses -- High-functioning Autism, OCD, PTSD, Generalized Anxiety Disorder. His anxiety has recently become so paralyzing, even doing all we can with medications and therapy, that we've had to completely remove him from school and begin using our school district's electronic school option from home. Over the next year, we need to approximately quadruple the amount of therapy he's receiving for his anxiety.
His Autism-related sensory struggles impact his eating habits dramatically, which is affecting his health. He needs occupational therapy to help deal with his sensory processing challenges. We've gotta get this beloved kiddo on the road toward being healthier on multiple levels.
Our Maia-papaya has some very significant special needs going on as well, and while they are becoming more intense and clearly present by the month, they are less clearly *defined* at this point. Hence, her new therapist is asking that we obtain 2, possibly 3 different diagnostic evaluations for her. These assessments, in and of themselves, are financially overwhelming.
A Window Into Our Lives
Due to the sensitivity of some of our children's challenges, I can't share a lot of details, and I've tried to not actually come out and publicly SAY, not fully, anyway, how hard things are for us these days. But I did write a more detailed version of what our lives are like these days for those of you who're interested -- you can read that here if you'd like.
For now though, I'll say that the ways our children's individual challenges interact together make our home life intense like I cannot describe. Stan and I are both under physicians' treatment for anxiety, and I struggle with some depression as well. I have also been on a journey with my neurologist to find solutions for debilitating migraines for over 3 years now. These issues are all primarily stress- and exhaustion-induced and began when Isaac's special needs first surfaced just over 3 years ago.
It's Go Time
At any rate, Stan and I have committed to spending this entire year focusing hardcore on addressing the mental/emotional/neurological wellbeing of our family. We genuinely have no other option.
I have recently ended my employment as the worship pastor on staff at our church so that I can focus my entire time and energy on this.
Several days ago, though, I was driving around, honestly at the end of myself, just weeping, asking God how in the world we were going to afford even a fraction of the treatments we need for our children (let alone for Stan and myself).
The cost of these therapies and diagnostic evaluations is nothing short of mind-boggling. The amount of the financial loan Stan and I were talking about obtaining to pay for it all - just one year of thorough, intentional treatment for our family - it took my breath away. We were talking years, decades maybe, of paying it off.
And as I cried and prayed, this thought, out of nowhere, settled in my heart -- "ASK. Ask for help. Your friends love you."
And as utterly uncomfortable as it made me, after a heck of a lot more prayer and conversation with my husband, here I am, swallowing an initial reaction that was some kinda mixture of pride and terror.
Regarding Oxygen Masks
Therapists and doctors lately keep telling Stan and me all this stuff about putting on our own oxygen masks first. That this is a genuine crisis. So while I still wouldn't say we're putting our own needs first, we're trying not to ignore them anymore, either, as you'll see in the detailed list of projected expenses for one year of extensive therapy that follows.
(Maia's therapist is all over us about obtaining weekly respite care, or bi-weekly at minimum, so we can have desperately-needed time away from the kids, especially now that I don't have any alone time anymore. Read the more detailed story for the layers of difficulty around doing that.)
Our story is an insanely long one, so I'll stop for now, and I'll give you a picture of our precise diagnostic/therapeutic needs and their projected prices for one year of treatment (along with a couple of other misc. needs).
Therapeutic Needs and Projected Costs for One Year:
Neurofeedback ** for all 4 of us (40 sessions per child; 30 per adult): $19,200
Maia's evaluations (combined cost): $6,700 (one-time expense)
Maia's weekly therapy: $6,500 (for entire year)
Isaac's weekly therapy: $2,400 (for entire year)
Isaac's monthly psychiatrist appt: $600 (for entire year)
Dana's medication increase (see detailed post): $600 (for entire year)
Respite care (every other week): $2,500 (for entire year)
Total Need for One Year: $38,500
*We will also likely need to pursue another developmental eval for Isaac this year, now that he's older. He was 4 when he had his last one.
Additional Cost: $3,000
**Neurofeedback is fascinating. If you're unfamiliar with it, click the link above for more info. It's been proven to extensively improve migraines, anxiety, Autism-related difficulties, emotional dysregulation, and so many other behavioral symptoms that result from trauma. It's absolutely incredible how a Neuro technician can read and re-train the brain's performance.
Your Partnership Means More
Anyway, friends, thank you so, so much for taking the time to read a little about our family, and for considering helping us as we pursue breakthrough in our family's health this year.
GoFundMe's minimum donation is $5. Even that much is so helpful -- feeling your partnership with us means so much more than the dollar amount.
We'd also so much appreciate your prayers as you think of us. And, if you're willing, would you share our story with your friends who might have a desire to help by contributing financially, and/or by praying for our family? It'd mean so much to us.
Thanks again, y'all. So very, very much. <3