Rick and Cyndi Jenson have touched so many hearts and lives. They have four amazing children on the autism spectrum; Tedi, Madicyn, Elli, and Charlie. Tedi is the oldest daughter and she was nonverbal until 5 or 6 years old. Her only form of communication was to scream. Today, Tedi is 19 years old and very talented in the Arts. She is attending college and working towards her future at The Center for Creative Studies (CCS) in Detroit where she is determined to continue her education. Anyone who has met Tedi or been witness to her beautiful artistic talent KNOWS the depth of her passion and amazing skill. In addition, they would also understand that her continuing at CCS is vital to her becoming a self-sufficient and independent woman. This experience at CCS, and the hope for Tedi’s future, is something that Cyndi and Rick have dreamed of, and unfortunately one that their other children are unlikely to have. Because of the on-going needs and expenses with her younger siblings, Tedi’s future at CCS is in jeopardy. Despite applying and using small grants to help with this first semester, Cyndi and Rick CAN’T continue to finance her education there. The fear of losing this opportunity for Tedi is heartbreaking.
Two of Cyndi and Rick’s other children, Madicyn (17 ½)) and Charilie (10) have both been recently hospitalized for mental health assistance and stabilized for very aggressive behavior in the home and at school. Madicyn and Charlie are non-verbal, which complicates meeting their needs and wants, thus increasing frustration and anger resulting in severe physical behaviors. Madicyn is in Children’s Hospital in Detroit and continues to await a placement in a psychiatric facility. Charlie was also at Children’s Hospital, but was moved a week ago to Harbor Oaks. The placement that Charlie is currently in, and the one that Madicyn is awaiting on, are only short-term stays whose main focus is stabilization. This means they will soon return to their home and schools, but doesn’t guarantee the crises that brought them to the hospital will be manageable, thus the process of hospitalization and home will probably continue to cycle. Eventually it may be that, Madicyn’s long term plan includes her residing in a group home setting with other adults who need constant supervision and direction.
The third daughter, Elli (13), who is also non-verbal, is continuing with school and various therapies appropriate for her with support of community mental health staff, while Rick and Cyndi continue to advocate for Madicyn and Charlie, who are currently in crisis. Along with this tremendous responsibility, they continue to try to encourage and support Tedi in her schooling.
Can you imagine the costs associated in raising the Jensen children? Healthcare, medical and treatment cost, food, gas (travel back and forth from Detroit Hospital to New Baltimore Facility, CCS), time from work, and other associated costs that just keep adding up. The following is right from Cyndi’s post updating all of their supporters on their current status, “Sadly, this care is not covered by insurance. There are so many hoops to jump through to get Medicaid (the kids' secondary insurance) to pay that I am afraid we will miss this incredible opportunity.” Cyndi just received some interesting news when she got home last week and opened the mail. Medicaid DENIED paying for the ‘facility’ that Charlie is currently receiving treatment at. Cyndi couldn’t help to wonder – “Have we hit rock bottom yet? I feel like we did a long time ago. How much more can we fall? I am praying that our insurance through Rick's job pays 100% otherwise I don't know how we will pay. Like everyone, money is super tight and there is no way we could pay out of pocket for a stay like this... let alone 2. Shouldn't they have told us this BEFORE we went? Even still, we had no other options.”
Cyndi and Rick have been leaders and advocates for inclusionary practices in school settings, various therapies and resources to help support other families like theirs. Despite their challenges on a daily basis, with even the most basic of parenting, they are always looking to assist others. They have invited strangers to their homes, who also have children on the spectrum, to show new ways of how to make life work with such major challenges. Cyndi has helped many families, who are just starting their journey, navigate the various systems that come with having special needs children, like providing direction with choosing school settings, completing documentation, referrals to programs (which are very limited), or simply by providing emotional support. They have hosted many events so that they can provide opportunities for their children and other special needs children the chance to socialize and have fun. If you know this family, nothing else needs to be said. If you have not been fortunate to experience this incredible family, they are not something that words can accurately capture. The Jensen’s hands are never outreached to gain. When their hands are extended, it is for the sole purpose of helping and supporting others in some way. Now they need OUR help! It is our wish that you will please share their story, or inspire them by sharing your personal story about how the Jensen family inspired, supported or amazed you.
You can follow Cyndi Jenson on Facebook or her blog, RiseAboveAutism.
Sandy and Kerri will also post updates on the GoFundMe page.
From the bottom of the hearts of all of us who have been touched and love this family, please consider helping, even if in the smallest way.
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