As you may know, in early 2012 our two oldest children, Kimball (now 8) and Anahí (now 6), were diagnosed with high-functioning autism.
Since then many of you have had the chance to meet these sweet kids. They are astonishing and gifted, and they bless the lives of everyone with whom they come in contact. Over the past couple of years we have done what we can to raise awareness about autism and to share with people the challenges and successes we have faced as we have done our best to raise all four of our children. This road has not been easy, but we feel so blessed to have such awesome kids in our family.
One of the greatest challenges with autism is the paralyzing feeling of inadequacy and impotence that we often face as parents. Only slightly less frustrating are the many "fixes" or "cures" that well-meaning people have often offered us. While we have always been open to doing what we can to help our children, we have also always been wary of people or programs who offer unrealistic results. We trust both our heads and our hearts to lead us in the right direction.
Early this year we heard of a program called Brain Balance that has had remarkable success working with children with a number of neurological conditions including autism. We are fortunate to have a Brain Balance center in St. George, just 45 minutes away from where we now live. After looking further into the program and talking with other families who have been through it, we have felt impressed to do this program with Kimball and Anahí.
Brain Balance is far more rigorous and in-depth than any other program we have found, and it approaches autism from a variety of angles. The goal is not to change behavior, it is to help the brain develop so that we can make long-term progress in all areas of life. You can read in detail about both kids' remarkable progress throughout the blog, but specifically here, here, here, here, here, and here. We do a home exercise program twice each day (about 30 minutes per session); we are on a very strict gluten-free, dairy-free, soy-free, peanut-free and refined sugar-free diet; and our kids are completely screen-free during the week with the chance to watch a movie or play 30 minutes of video games on Saturdays. Through it all, they have had a great attitude. They work extremely hard, and are making phenomenal progress.
We feel so grateful to have found the Brain Balance program, but it represents a significant challenge for our family. The program itself costs $19,500 for six months. We are also paying significantly more in gas and food money because of the frequent trips to St. George and the specialized diet. We recognize that this is no more than many people pay to send their children to a private school or to buy a second car, and we gladly accept the responsibility to take care of these sweet children. We have taken out a ten-year loan to pay for the program, and we are confident that with our hard work and God's grace we will be able to meet all of our financial obligations and be able to take care of our little family. We even recently bought a little old house with a yard so the kids can play outside – something their young brains and bodies need now more than ever. We are not starving, and we feel truly blessed. We know that there are many people who are in worse situations than we are. Despite this, we have felt inspired to allow interested people the opportunity to help us out. This is not a desperate plea for help. It is an invitation to join us in our journey. If you have ever wanted to donate to a worthy cause, this might be the time to do it. Feel free to peek in on our blog whenever you like to see how this project – our collective project – is coming along.
We have a chance to change the trajectory of our childrens' lives, and we need to act now while they are young so that the program can be as effective as possible. Betty and I have decided that I will take care of the finances so that she can focus on the house and the children. I will be working extra hours to make ends meet, but your contribution will go a long way towards taking the heat off of our family. If you are interested in donating, you can send us a check or cash (or drop it by my parents' house), or you can simply click on thermometer at the right to make an online payment of any amount (even the smallest amounts help). This blog is run by Squarespace and the transaction will be processed by Stripe. It is as safe as any online purchase. All donations will be used to pay for the Brain Balance tuition and evaluation, as well as for food and gas.
The total amount we need to raise is $22,000, and we are currently half-way there! When we reach our goal we will stop fundraising.
Regardless of whether or not you donate, we want you to know how grateful we are for your help, support, and prayers. We would be happy to answer any questions you have about the Brain Balance program, or about our experience with autism in general. Feel free to use the comment section below to ask us anything you like or to send a message to Kimball and Anahí (this program is tough and they could use some cheering on). We know that there are many people out there facing situations similar to ours, and we want to be a source of information and hope. Perhaps our reaching out will give other people courage to do the same. If you decide not to help us, we hope that you will make a commitment to help someone else. There are so many families like ours that suffer in silence. There is no way we can ever pay back everyone for their love and generosity towards us. We can only do our best to pay it forward.
Many thanks and much love,
Todd & Betty Mack