Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Jaden Rallies for Autism Services!

Jaden, the little boy with autism who is raising awareness about the 2010 Central Park Challenge, has his work cut out for him.

Though only 3-years-old, Jaden joined his parents and YAI Network staff, at a rally on Tuesday on the steps of City Hall urging the New York City Council to continue its $1.575 million city-wide autism initiative serving families not eligible for other public support. Staff from more than 20 other service providers, parents of children with autism, individuals of all ages and New York City Councilman Mark Weprin also participated in the rally.

Because autism has reached epidemic proportions, the YAI Network must plan ahead to meet the needs and services of this ever-growing population. The Central Park Challenge is one way that we do this. While research continues for a cure, there’s evidence that early intervention, detection and treatment enhance the quality of life of children on the spectrum. Parent education and awareness is critical to ensure that these children receive the appropriate services.

Thanks to the funding, the YAI Network over the last year was able to host free autism family support and training programs for parents of children on the spectrum, a full-day conference on autism, featuring some of the nation’s most prominent authorities, a full-day conference entirely in Spanish to train families, caregivers and professionals in the field, and many other programs.

“I feel so lucky to be involved with YAI and have access to these great conferences and workshops,” said Sandra Vasquez-Lugo, Jaden's mom. “This initiative lets people know there’s help out there and that’s so important for families dealing with autism.”  

“The City Council's autism initiative funding has been so critical in ensuring that parents learn about and gain access to the services that can make a tremendous difference in their child's quality of life,”  said Marco Damiani, Senior Director of Clinical and Family Services for YAI/National Institute for People with Disabilities, a member of the YAI Network. “Until there's a cure, this funding is important to assure families that there is hope."

Support Team Jaden's fundraising efforts today!

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