I have a close friend whose son is a couple of years younger than mine. We were co-workers during both of our respective pregnancies so we got to experience all that comes with first time motherhood together. One significant factor differentiates our experience and that is, her son received a diagnosis on the Autism spectrum.
As many people are aware, rates of this diagnosis are on the rise. When I was a kid about 1 kid in every 2,000 had Autism. Today the CDC estimates that number at 1 in 68 children. This disorder has no definitive diagnosis, no one specific set of symptoms or treatment. What does seem to be clear from what I gather, is that early and intensive intervention is key. What does this mean for parents? It means not only grieving for the childhood you likely envisioned for your child, but also dealing with a healthcare system that isn’t set up to meet your child’s needs. Many insurance plans, even the best, don’t cover the intensive therapies that may be recommended for children with an autism diagnosis. My girlfriend pays for a very expensive health insurance plan through her employer (so basically best case scenario with regard to the American healthcare system) and still pays a significant amount of money out of pocket to provide for her son’s treatment. Once the treatment is paid for, there’s still the task of getting your child to multiple appointments every week- occupational therapy, speech therapy, etc. It means trying to work with teachers and schools that may not be equipped to support your child, or even understand their unique circumstances. It’s really staggering and adds up to an immense amount of physical/emotional/financial stress on a family.
April is Autism Awareness Month and this year I will have the privilege of participating in a competition called Battleground April 18-19, 2015. This is a volunteer run event with 100% of the proceeds going to the Train 4 Autism Foundation. This organization has established an incredible, innovative, and thoughtful way to enhance the lives of families impacted by Autism. I love this model because, as many of us have discovered, fitness can be such an amazing outlet. What a gift to have access to a program where your entire family can be served, alleviate some stress, enhance your physical health, and make the financial cost of participating in CrossFit attainable. Proceeds from Battleground will benefit Train 4 Autism’s “CrossFit for Parents and Children with Special Needs Project.”
“Train 4 Autism Foundation has created Strength & Conditioning program specifically for parents and their children touched by autism. These classes are coached by Level 1 Crossfit Certified Coaches as well as certified behavioral therapists and volunteers. This training is held at No Limits Sports & Fitness Academy.”
It’s easy to get involved with Battleground by competing in the beginner/intermediate/advanced or team categories, or by setting up your own fundraising page to support this event.