I first learned about St. Gerard House through our church. The founder, Caroline Long, made a fund raising plea at the masses one Sunday. At that time, Caroline was a 43 year old single mom with two children,7 and 9, who were experiencing autism. Caroline had traveled around the country trying to find the best possible cures or therapy for her children. She wanted to share what she had found with other parents. Caroline was moved to establish St. Gerard House, a resource center for families experiencing autism. The Grotto School for pre-k age children was set up and the Clinical Director, Rachael Cushing, hired a teaching staff to provide ABA (Applied Behavioral Analysis) to the children enrolled in the school. ABA is an intense one on one therapy (and education) that seek to help the autistic child mainstream into a typical school enviornment. ABA is a proven approach to helping improve the lives of those young children diagnosed with autism.
I personally became involved with St. Gerard House in 2010 and have been a member of its board since that time. St. Gerard House is one of those place where you can see miracles happen before your eyes. An autistic child is not disabled. Many of them are highly intelligent and capable of as much or more than typical kids their age.
Why are funds needed for St. Gerard House? Because ABA is most successful when there is a one-on-one relationship between the teacher and student, the cost is prohibitively high for families in there mid-thirties who may have one or two other children to support as well. SGH charges a relatively manageable tuition for each student and seeks to make up the additional expense through individual and corporate donations, grants and fund raisers. Nearly 86% of the total expenses are direct teacher compensation. The major of the rest is for program development. Only a small fraction of costs are administrative for marketing and fundraising purposes.
Since learning about SGH and more about autism spectrum, I have been surprised at how many of my friends or acquaintance have a family member who is experiencing autism. When I first learned about it three year ago the published figure was 1 in 110 children would be born with autism. It is now down to 1 in 85 and the percentage is even higher among boy children.
Please consider supporting this fine charity and the work they do. You may never know if your dollar was the one that helped a young person with autism become a productive member of our society. But I can assure you that at SGH is it happening.