Words can not express our gratitude to Parker Autism Foundation for offering our family a once-in-a-lifetime dream vacation to Disney World! And to be able to experience it with other families who truly understand the day-to-day challenges we're faced with was icing on the cake. Because of financial strains, we would have never been able to provide a trip like this to our children. We appreciate the meticulous planning that was involved which made the trip run smoothly for everyone involved. Our children had a blast! It is a memory that we will forever cherish!
REGARDING PAF Camp Dakota:
We would like to extend our deepest gratitude to Parker Autism Foundation for giving our son, Ryan an outstanding summer camp experience! Camp Dakota is unlike any other camp in the Charlotte area as it is lead by experienced, dedicated Special Education teachers and it incorporates essential social, community and life skills which he needs during his summer down-time. We love seeing him make new friends and reconnecting with old friends and familiar camp peer buddies who do a great job making the kids feel loved and accepted. The camp also provides a broad range of fun and educational experiences such as Discovery Place, Zoo visits, Speedway Museum, and Clayworks just to name a few. They have amble opportunities to practice their community skills visiting restaurants, movies, sporting events and markets. Ryan looks forward to attending camp each year and we feel confident in knowing that he is in a loving and safe environment.
REGARDING PAF Annual Holiday Program:
Parker Autism Foundation's Holiday Gift Giving Program has helped bring the magic of the holidays to our family and manyothers who deal with the ongoing financial strains of raising a child(ren) with special needs, which can be overwhelming especially during the holidays. Thank you for giving us peace and comfort in knowing that our children can experience the JOY of Christmas day.Watching the magic unfold as they see the presents that Santa left for them is priceless!
Lori & The E. Family
The Parker Autism Foundation has been a tremendous blessing to our family. Shelley and staff have encouraged us, educated us, and financially contributed to us through camp scholarships and more. PAF has touched our lives in ways we will never forget. Our daughter, Sarah, loves attending Camp Dakota. It has helped to develop her social skills and give her confidence in trying new things.
In 2014, we went with PAF to Disney World. On our own, we would never have been able to take our family there. It was an amazing trip for Sarah. It was so wonderful to connect with other families facing some of the same challenges and being able to encourage each other. The Christmas program has helped us to keep the “Magic” in Christmas. Having a child with special needs has its challenges and blessings. Having the support of the PAF is a tremendous blessing!
Chris, Kathy - The M. Family
I want to sincerely thank Shelley and The Parker Autism Foundation for bringing the magic and joy of Walt Disney World to Patrick’s life. Four years ago, we were given the chance to experience a trip of a lifetime! I can honestly say I never would have attempted this type of trip due to the uncertainty of Patrick’s reaction, and the overwhelming cost.
We only had experiences with Tweetsie Railroad and Carowinds prior to our trip with TPAF to Walt Disney World in Florida. Although it was good to have experience with waiting in lines and riding rides, I can honestly say that neither of them truly compare to the “world” of Disney.
We were all a bit anxious about how it was going to work out, but overall the trip provided Patrick with so many opportunities for growth. His favorite experiences were the social interactions with the characters. The people in his favorite movies, right there, interacting with you! Even now, when he meets new people in the our community, he calls them “new characters.”
The trip tested Patrick’s tolerance of noise and crowds. We learned things that worked and didn’t work. We got to practice our skills of communicating when we need to leave or when we feel overwhelmed.
Since our first trip with you, Patrick has caught the “Disney bug.” He enjoys having conversations with others about Disney. He enjoys visiting the Disney store and talking with his favorite employees there. He loves showing pictures to family and friends of our Disney trip. He has consciously been saving his allowance for our next Disney trip. He is learning budgeting skills to understand how much a trip really costs, and making choices, such as putting the money we would spend on a Carowinds season pass in the bank towards a Disney trip instead. He is learning about saving towards a goal and planning ahead.
Patrick’s love of Disney is also giving him opportunities to learn to read park maps and schedules, and to make a plan for seeing his favorite characters. We have also used his love of Disney to work on his writing skills. Patrick has written to several characters at Disney World and received responses from them. We’ve also received some true Disney magic in the form of postcards and packages from some “fairy godmothers” at Disney. This year he is interested in using the computer to design an iron-on to make his own Disney themed t-shirt!
The most important thing Patrick found at Disney World was acceptance. He was accepted for his differences, for his uniqueness. If you ask him, he will tell you that he wants to grow up and live at Disney World with his character “friends.” For him, the magic is very real. All of the cast members we encountered at Disney treated him with kindness. All the joy he had being there was reflected back to him in every encounter. He felt special, and we felt it was truly magical.
When you have a child with a disability and watch him struggle every day, and have all the normal daily things be so difficult, it is so wonderful to see him so happy, so genuinely excited, and treated with such a high level of kindness.
It is truly priceless, and we sincerely thank you.
PAF has been a bright light, in so many ways, in a sometimes endless tunnel. It has given my son freedom, independence, and improved his social skills. Every child looks forward to attend summer camp and getting to hang-out with friends. For some children with Autism that is not always possible and options are not always available. PAF is that place for all children.
It has given my family and my son a place for him to try new things, expand out of his comfort level, and be with other children that accept him for who he is. It is not easy to find a place where you know your child will be taken care of and looked after by counselors that treat each child like they are their own. PAF provides that comfort and support that we all need.
We need to share with you the sincere and genuine appreciation that my family and I feel at the amazing generosity shown to us at Christmas 2011 by the Parker Autism Foundation and your collaboration with the Autism Spectrum Disorder Foundation.
We were expecting to have a very minimalistic Christmas but thanks to the the help we received from both Foundations, we were able to get gifts for our four kids that made their eyes light up and put big smiles on their faces - and of course tears of happiness in our eyes.
My family and I would like to thank you, the Parker Autism Foundation, and also the Dilworth United Methodist Church for making this Christmas special. I wish everyone could have been in the room to see Charles' eyes light up when he saw the beautiful bike so generously donated by the church. The other kids were equally excited by their new clothes and toys. Please let the church sponsors know that their generosity was much appreciated.
We hope that one day we are in a position to "pay it forward" to others in the manner that others gave to us this past Christmas. We will do what we can to extend similar kindness to strangers whenever we have the opportunity to do so.
Sincerely; Susan M.
My husband Todd and I moved our family to the Charlotte area about a year and a half ago from a Washington D.C.suburb in Northern VA. Our main reason for relocating was to move closer to my sister and Todd's brother. We were alone in VA, exhausted and frustrated trying to meet the demands of our 4 year old son with autism and our younger son, a toddler at the time. We needed some support and relief, and that is just what we found when we moved here.
What we didn't anticipate, however, is the 50% salary cut from what Todd had been earning in D.C.. By spring of 2006 we found ourselves scrambling to come up with the money to send Aidan to ABC school, a speech camp, since the school system would not provide summer help for him the way our old school system had. Aidan had shown regression over long breaks from school in the past, and watching your child step backwards developmentally is heartbreaking. We knew a whole summer without therapy and structure would spell trouble for Aidan. But at the time, just paying the bills was a challenge and it became clear we would not be able to afford the speech camp.
That is when I heard about the Parker Autism Foundation. We applied and Aidan was granted a full scholarship to attend ABC school. A wonderful speech therapist worked with Aidan daily and he began what Todd and I refer to as his "language boom". It was as if something clicked for him at ABC school, and we started to hear full sentences from him and his echolalia decreased dramatically. I believe that last summer was a crucial time for Aidan, and thanks to the Parker Autism Foundation, he showed some amazing progress. We continue to be so grateful to the folks at ParkerAutism Foundation for doing for Aidan what we simply could not at that time.
This scholarship meant that my son Christopher was able to attend Speech Garden speech therapy camp for 4 weeks. If it was not for your assistance, he would not have been able to, because I am a single Mom with 2 boys. Christopher has autism and Steven is speech delayed. Both attended the camp. I noticed a huge difference in his speech and social skills ability after that camp.
Thank you, from the bottom of my heart!
Thank you very much for allowing me to attend the conference this past weekend free-of charge. The knowledge I gained is invaluable; it allows me to advocate, understand, and provide for my child on a new level.
Every session I attended was interesting and taught information that is- or will soon be - relevant for us every day. Your conference allowed me to meet other parents & professionals with great ideas and...it showed me that autism is NOT “the end of the world.”
I was thrilled to receive a scholarship from the Parker Autism Foundation. I have seen first hand the benefit of ABA therapy, but have never been able to afford it for my son. I feel like he is like a beautifully wrapped present. There are many gifts and talents hidden inside, waiting to be opened. The chance for him to be unwrapped lies in the ABA therapy sessions, and only then will we see what gifts he has to offer.
Just wanted to say that my grandsons would be in a world of hurt without the guidance of the Parker Autism Foundation. Whenever I need a question answered or a problem to solve the people at the Foundation are always there to help.
We have needed help with IEPs, school work, classroom situations or even when we have questions about doctors. We would be like fish out of water without them and I thank God everyday for their assistance.
I am here to say thank you to the Parker Autism Foundation for allowing my boys to attend summer camp. They are so excited to go and are ecstatic when they come from a day at camp. It is the highlight of their summer. The staff is phenomenal with the kids and the parents too. The boys love everything about it and we are so grateful for the opportunity for them. Thank you, thank you , thank you
The Parker Autism Foundation has helped us out tremendously with the problems that we have to deal with with two boys with autism. My wife and I have many problems of our own and greatly appreciate their assistance. Michael, our oldest, has had many issues in school and the Parker Autism Foundation has helped us with his individual educational program. If we are having behavior problems they are there with helpful suggestions on how to deal with them. I am here to say thank you to the Parker Autism Foundation for allowing my boys to attend summer camp. They are so excited to go and are ecstatic when they come home from a day at camp. It is the highlight of their summer. The staff is phenomenal with the kids and the parents too. The boys love everything about it and we are so grateful for the opportunity for them. Thank you, thank you, thank you! We are extremely grateful for the Parker Autism Foundation and their staff.
The B. Family