During our first TASB Meet Up of 2018, TASB Volunteers Katie Walji and Sara Clark presented our TASB Beacon of Hope to Naomi Cheeks. She is a proud mother whose son, Mark has been diagnosed with autism. This is the beginning of distributing Grants to families who are having a hard time paying out of pocket expenses for autism therapy. Our TASB Volunteers are now able to help their clients who have kids/students with autism. This is just the beginning of what can happen when stylists and barbers come together and make a difference in the lives of our clients. Join us this years Hair-Raising Events including our annual TASB Cut-a-Thon for Autism starting the weekend before Labor Day with opening celebrations. A 6 wk period for you and all your clients to get involved, join the movement and creating Autism Awareness.
Mark has always been an interesting kid ever since he was little. I have always known Mark was different, he didn’t talk until he was 3 and when I questioned his pediatrician about it she said it was likely due to all his ear infections. He continued to develop more slowly than other children his age both with his motor skills and socially. Mark is a very loving, happy, kid that enjoyed playing outside, but often by himself and didn’t play much with others, he preferred to play with his dogs. In 2015 Mark was diagnosed with ADHD, anxiety and ODD. He was given multiple medications to help with his ADHD and none of them worked for him and he grew excessively more aggressive, and mean and angry as the months went by. On April 20, 2016, my very sweet, happy, kind hearted child did something no child should ever do. He tried to cut his own throat open and kill himself with a pair of scissors. Thankfully the attempt was unsuccessful but we spent 5 days in an ER waiting for a childrens facility willing to take him. Mark on April 24th Mark was then transported to a children’s facility in Savannah Georgia and had to remain there for 5 days before he was allowed to come home. They tried to give him another form of medication to calm him down but this medicine made his anxiety so much worse. Then I finally decided to have a new pediatrician evaluate him and she suggested that we get an evaluation done. I went and filled out all the paper work and Mark had his evaluation on June 14th, a week later I was given the results and he was diagnosed with Autism. I was so relieved because now I knew there was something else I could do to help him and I could get my sweet boy back. We started ABA with Spectrum Behavioral Associates in August of 2016 and Mark has made so many huge improvements that I am in awe of his progress. I am starting to see bits of my sweet boy coming back to me. I am so thankful for all the hard work of the therapist that provide him services and this wouldn’t be possible for us as a family without this scholarship because insurance companies still do not understand how important these therapies are for children on the spectrum. We couldn’t go out to dinner as a family and now we can, we couldn’t let him go back to regular public school and now he has a modified schedule and is able to interact with his peers. This therapy means everything to my family and I am so thankful for the scholarship we have received to help with the cost of that.