A Bridge Over Autism For Max

“And Max, the king of all wild things, was lonely and wanted to be where someone loved him best of all.... And [he] sailed back over a year and in and out of weeks and through a day and into the night of his very own room where he found his supper waiting for him
...and it was still hot”
― Maurice Sendak, Where the Wild Things Are

My name is Roy Willardson. My wife (Kelly) and I named our first son, Max, after the boy from this children’s classic story. A young man not yet comfortable in his own skin, wreaked havoc throughout the house forcing parental intervention. He gained some perspective, and journeyed home where he was happy and loved most of all...Might be a stretch, but this narrative seems to fit our Max as well. 
Our plea is to bridge the short-term financial gap between insurance coverage denied in May 2017 and out-of-pocket expenses to continue Max’s mental health treatment through July 2017. Current treatment plan and staff have rendered more progress in 60 days than we have seen in over a decade! He is starting to smile again and advancing through the program success milestones at record pace. Even the extension of 6 to 8 weeks would be impactful in further enforcing the fundamentals of decision making and accountability.

Our Max, now turning 15, was diagnosed with a high functioning Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) at the age of 3, bounced to varying definitions of the condition over a decade and re-confirmed in April 2017. Although on the higher functioning end of the spectrum- the condition distorts Max’s perception of appropriate social exchanges, emotional self-regulation, depression, and misplaced aggression.

Due to unsafe behaviors with immediate impact on himself, two younger siblings, and us as parents- we faced a police custody lockdown facility or specialized acute mental health options. Max willingly chose a residential treatment center (RTC) because he does not want to be “afraid and angry all the time”.

He was admitted March 2017 to a full-time specialized staff of therapists, clinicians, and educators trained to treat ASD and a follow-through success journey proven over 20+ years. Logan River Academy www.loganriver.com

Although our insurance carrier agreed to initial medical necessity to get him stabilized- coverage ended after 60 days (May 17, 2017). For context, the average stay of a patient successfully prepared to come back home is between 9 months to 1 year. Our goal is 6 months.

Continued coverage in the program now falls on the families to be sourced privately. After several appeals, exploring costly and drawn out litigation with insurance, and exhausting ALL personal financing options- we are at a breaking point.

As you might expect, this level of care from experienced professionals and boarding comes at a high price. Monthly fees amount to $9,445 per month. The timing is urgent as we are already incurring debt from May 18th to the present...fees are paid 1 month in advance due June 17th and July 17th.

Funds generated from the campaign will go toward treatment center monthly fees (3 months @$9,445 = 28,335). IF the stars align and we exceed requested amount, the remainder will go toward fees for professional educational advocacy services to secure appropriate district academic placement in the fall.

Thankful would truly be an understatement for anything you feel you can donate and pass this link along to those that know the mental illness roller coaster. We will post updates on his progress and smile throughout his stay.

We recognize that extending Max’s treatment is not the answer or end of our challenges or his- however, every hour he can remain in the care of professionals at this crucial intersection will maximize chances for a more successful outlook for both Max and our family. With grateful hearts for even making it this far down the page...

-roy and kelly willardson


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Roy Willardson 
San Marcos, CA
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