Paul was diagnosed with autism at the age of three in 2004. At that time the doctors gave us very little hope and options on how to help him. However, we never gave up hope and we were always in search of therapies and different treatments.
We are fortunate to have the resources to provide Paul with educational opportunities, therapeutic and biomedical treatments necessary for him to improve and live a happy and rewarding life. His favorite activities are playing tennis, biking, swimming, and horseback riding. Over the years we have seen that Paul has with time and patience opened up to us. Seeing his smile, developments or changes in his behavior made us relish the improvements and it constantly reminded us to never lose hope.
Throughout this journey, we realized that there are hundreds of families of children with autism who struggle every day to pay for similar services especially in Bolivia (the home country of Paul's mom). Bolivia is the poorest country in South America with the lowest GDP per capita. Autism services lag far behind and children and families do not have the robust, well-organized resources for help that are more common in the United States. Even simple services that are offered most families can not afford. For instance, schools do not always accept children with autism because they will require that the family pays for services so the child is looked after but many do not have the means for it. Thus, many parents are forced to leave their children alone locked at home so they can go to work to earn money for simply surviving and the needed services for their children are not a priority. We want to alleviate that burden for these families so the children receive the help and attention they need.
Paul has inspired us in many ways—but the one we may be most grateful for is inspiring us to help others and to give back to our community which is why we have started this initiative. Our goal is to support families with children on the autism spectrum and foster a sense of community around a disorder that is sometimes misunderstood. We want to help families who due to their economic circumstances and lack of access to resources such as medical treatments are not able to properly care for their children. We want to introduce best practice for therapies and engage the community to participate and support the families in the area of Santa Cruz de la Sierra.
Children with autism have a lot of potential and we are certain that their symptoms can immensely improve, as we have seen with Pauli, throughout these past years. With this initiative, we want to celebrate and expand our mission with the hope that we can achieve a promising future for children and people with autism.
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