|Dear Friend of ICA, During this joyous holiday season, I wanted to share with you a remarkable story that touched my heart and I hope will touch yours, too.
LaSonya was so excited to bring home her baby, D’errica (Dee Dee) fourteen years ago. As a new parent, she wasn’t really sure what to expect from a newborn. Things went fairly well for the first several years, but over time problems became increasingly prevalent at school. LaSonya tried home schooling as well as alternate school programs with little to no success.
Dee Dee, who has Down’s syndrome, also shows signs of developmental disabilities and behavior disorders similar to those with autism spectrum disorder.
Autism spectrum disorder affects 1 out of every 88 people in the U.S., with an estimated 150,000 people living with this life-changing disorder in Illinois. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimate that 1 out of every 6 children have a developmental disorder.
Dee Dee never spoke an audible word to her mom because she couldn’t. She wasn’t able to clearly tell her what she liked for breakfast, or if she was in pain. Though LaSonya spoke to her constantly, their household lacked the shrieking and laughter typical of what was now a young teenage girl. Her own silence made Dee Dee’s world extremely limited.
The Illinois Center for Autism (ICA) reaches kids like Dee Dee at the level where they are, and we introduce them to life experiences, education and therapies that raise their abilities to the highest level possible from childhood through adulthood.
Dee Dee quickly learned to use electronics in our speech and language class. Her nimble fingers could easily manipulate most any device and her communication possibilities skyrocketed. Within a few months at ICA, a Nova Chat became her voice and one day LaSonya “heard” her daughter say “I love you” for the very first time.
We change the lives of kids and families because of the generosity of people who care – people like you. LaSonya shared that the changes to Dee Dee’s life over the past year have been enormous. Mom explained that her daughter is much more verbal and confident, and like most teenagers, full of spirit.
There are more than 400 other people we serve, who, like Dee Dee - and like you and me - have goals and dreams. We receive funding from a variety of sources, but, unfortunately, it’s not enough to ensure that all of necessary services are available. To provide these services, we still need to raise about $2,500 per person. That would be a little over $10 per day to help change a life forever.
Practically a chatterbox by electronic standards, Dee Dee has so much potential. And, now Mom knows her daughter loves her eggs scrambled, not sunny side up….
Please make your secure gift because every gift brings hope, health and happiness to people with autism and other developmental disabilities. Thank you for your consideration and we wish you and your family a very happy holiday season and a prosperous New Year.
Rachel C. Newsome
Director of Communications/Development