Living Beyond Autism, 501 (c) 3, provides early intervention and outreach programs for unrepresented and underserved populations impacted by autism. We advocate for awareness, early intervention and research for a cure.
At Living Beyond Autism, LBA means Leading, Believing and Achieving:
LEADING efforts that support research for a cure to Autism Spectrum Disorder and advocating for accessible resources for families caring for individuals impacted by autism.
BELIEVING every person with Autism Spectrum Disorder deserves opportunities to lead a remarkable and fulfilling life.
ACHIEVING measurable results that assist individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder and their families through effective outreach programming
About Living Beyond Autism
Autism is the fastest-growing childhood disease in America. A recent study published in the American Academy of Pediatrics Journal confirms that one in every 88 American children, including one in every 56 boys born today will be diagnosed with autism. This complex neurological disorder is taking its toll on school districts, communities and families across the nation. The impact is felt significantly in un/under served communities, where both diagnosis and services are delayed two years on average. That is particularly significant because while there is no cure for autism, early intervention has proven to help minimize its long-term effects. Two years without valuable therapies can be the difference between a child growing to someday lead an independent life living on their own or leading a life on permanent assistances from institutionalized care. This is the reality for thousands of special needs families everywhere, especially in underprivileged communities where knowledge of autism is most often limited.
Living Beyond Autism is responding to the crisis of autism, especially in those under-served communities, by developing educational forums, advocacy training workshops, intervention programs and specialized learning opportunities for parents and caregivers of special needs children. LBA was founded in Central Ohio in 2011 by Reggie and Angela Fields in honor of their son, Grant. Grant was diagnosed with autism in 2005 at the age of 4. At the time, Reggie and Angela knew very little about autism and even less about how to help their son cope with this disorder. Because of their experiences, Grant’s parents know exactly what types of programs, training and services other families raising a child with autism can use to their benefit.
To expand its reach, LBA is already reaching out and collaborating with key local and national special needs stakeholder groups, such as, Autism Speaks, the Autism Society of Ohio, Ohio Center for Autism and Low Incidence and Ohio Developmental Disabilities Council (ODDC)l.
Message from the Founders
Like many 2-years-old, one of the first academic skills Grant mastered was reciting the alphabet. He would sit at the dinner table or play on the floor while singing his ABC’s over-and-over again. We now long for those days. Before Grant reached his third birthday he had become increasingly less verbal and could no longer recite his alphabet. And there were other signs of regression. His facial expressions grew more stoic, his eyes sometimes fixated. He expressed little emotion and no empathy.
We sought medical attention and were told that he was experiencing a mild case of speech delay and would eventually bounce back to his normal self. It seemed a reasonable explanation considering our older son had a speech delay at about the same age which he overcame by the time he started kindergarten. But Grant was different. It didn’t take long for us to suspect there was far more need for concern. About 18 months later, in 2005, at the age of 4, Grant was diagnosed with autism.
We founded Living Beyond Autism in Grant’s honor in 2011. As his parents, we struggled for years to understand what autism is, how it might impact our son, and what we could do to help improve his quality of life. Autism is the fastest growing developmental disability in the United States. It affects one out of every 110 children in our country and is considered a national public health crisis by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control. And there is no cure. But while there is no cure, early intervention appears to be a key element in helping to minimize autism’s long-term effects on a child.
Our worry is that we learned about Grant’s ailment too late. The younger a child with autism is diagnosed and therapeutic treatment can begin, the greater the odds that child will be able to lead a productive and independent life without governmental assistance or institutionalized care. Nearly two years had elapsed between the time we suspected something was troubling Grant to when we learned it was autism. And it has taken many more years since for us to identify and apply appropriate treatment. Think of it as a window of opportunity that is closing fast. We wonder everyday what type of life will Grant lead as he approaches his teenage years and later adulthood. And we wonder whether we were able to help to him quick enough to have that long-term positive impact on his life.
Along the way, it became increasingly evident that autism was not only having a devastating impact on Grant but it was also a billowing dark cloud over our lives as his parents. His older brother and other loved ones also were not spared the draining emotional impact brought on by autism. But at some point we agreed that we were not going to allow autism to defeat us or remain cast as a shadow over Grant’s life. We have hope! Hope for a cure. Hope for a better life for our son. Hope is what drives us on our daily journey to see that every child with autism has the chance to lead a remarkable life.
We believe there are many other families just like ours who have a child that has recently been diagnosed with autism and are filled with uncertainty and yearning to cling to a thread of hope. Living Beyond Autism — through education programs, advocacy training, intervention programs and specialized learning opportunities — aims to alleviate that anxiety and offer rays of hope. We are honored to be able to do all that we can to help people with autism live beyond this disorder and achieve happy, fulfilled and prosperous lives.
Co-Founders, Living Beyond Autism