by Lisa Ackerman
It’s the end of another year, 2012 is almost in the history books! It’s only in reflection that I am reminded that what feels like a blink now, wasn’t. As usual, TACA was a whirlwind of activity all year; helping families, building relationships, and expanding our community. This could not have happened without the fantastic people dedicated to the TACA mission. Thank you all.
Since TACA’s beginnings nearly 13 years ago, I have been sending out an end of year update. This year as usual, I would like to begin with a Jeff update—he is my TACA inspiration and keeps me going.
Jeff, now 15 years old, is a blessing to our family. He continues to make progress every year. Today, he is in a regular 9th grade class. His strengths include Algebra, Science and an interest in biology. This year he is learning how to play the guitar, has started with regular jogs multiple times a week and is picking up golf. Jeff is still a few steps behind in reading comprehension, essay composition, abstract curriculum and math reasoning but works diligently to keep up. He always seems to rise to meet new challenges with a smile on his face and a positive attitude that inspires everyone around him – especially his mom. Jeff’s language and social skills continue to develop. He likes REALLY girls, has a crush on Katy Perry and enjoys hanging out with friends.
I remember the day when many professionals told me “there is nothing you can do”. Today, I marvel with happiness at his many typical teen like behaviors. He continues to be a walking miracle. It is my sincere hope that other families will be inspired by Jeff and will continue to fight for their child. I also know that every little bit we can do to help our kids make developmental progress makes a difference.
One important lesson remains: Our kids need us to never give up. I love TACA families because they have hope and believe in the future for our all our kids.
Now on to TACA 2012! Here’s just a handful of program highlights:
- TACA’s parent support team & volunteers responded to almost 15,000 calls (English and Spanish) for empowerment and support via phone, email and live chat. This is a new record for TACA.
- Chapters & meetings: TACA’s volunteer chapter leaders and key volunteers brought TACA’s mission to their community. 26 chapters held over 260 meetings & coffee talks across the U.S.
- We distributed over 3,000 Autism Journey Guides-free to families in need thanks to a special donor.
- Dozens of new articles were added to the TACA website. On average, TACA receives around 70,000 unique visitors each month.
- TACA hosted over 40 events where almost 10,000 parents and children gathered in an autism friendly environment.
- TACA participated in 280 scholarships via Autism Cares and provided an additional 36 medical, social skills and other community based grants.
- This year, TACA Mentors made almost 500 connections. TACA mentors reached and supported families needing assistance on their autism journey. This is another new record of families TACA has touched and reached out to via the mentor program. TACA now mentors in 7 languages.
- TACAnowblog.com with a record 83 posts (including 20 guests posts from our Physician Advisory board and on staff attorney) with over 130,000 readers.
- Thousands of Facebook and Twitter posts including News stories, TACA family friendly and allergen free recipes, tips, and TACA stories are posted daily.
- We participated in an iPad Autism & Communication study, created a project video and parent tool kit – link https://www.tacanow.org/miscellaneous/ipads-and-autism/
- Additional TACA programs across the U.S. – Read more about TACA’s programs: http://www.tacanow.org/
This is only 1/4 of what TACA has done. We will publish a full report in January.
As 2012 comes to an end, TACA counts over 31,000 families affected by autism in its community. On average, TACA is providing support to almost 400 new families each month.
I know I have said thank-you in general, but, I’ve got some specific shout-outs for the TACA staff. Thank you Violette, Jackie, Summer, Di, Stephanie, Trang, Mari, Moira, Holly, Julie, Laura, Maggie, Cindy, Janice, Jennifer, Chris and Vicky. Thank you to all the volunteers. Thank you to the TACA Board who serve, guide and fundraises to help make it happen (Glen, Pat, Dan, Chad and new board member Elizabeth).
A special, heart felt thank you to our Volunteer Chapter Coordinators and the Parent Mentors who serve selflessly. You are core to our mission of Families Helping Families and ensure that our programs reach families in local communities. TACA would be lost without this incredibly dedicated team of over 500 volunteers providing Real Help Now.
2012 was our 3rd year for TACA’s Ambassadors and Physician Advisory Team. Ambassadors and Physician Advisors support TACA in their professional circle and talk about curing autism on a regular basis. These friends have made invaluable contributions to help champion the mission.
In closing, this economy has affected TACA families and this foundation in a major way. All of us have learned to do MORE with LESS. As with all non profits the economy has had an impact on donations. Despite this challenge we have found ways to acquire help and continue our programs. Much gratitude to the almost 2,000 businesses and individuals that made donations in 2012. Our major donors include: Oakley, Jack FM, Oxyhealth, Kirkman Group, OC Community Foundation, Hope4Hanna, Bikram Yoga in Silverlake, Buchanan Street Children’s Charities, Enzymedica & Autism Hope Alliance, Volcom, Gladiator events with Dan “Nitro” Clark, Inhouse IT, Midwest Insurance, Hawaii Autism Foundation (Beautiful Son Foundation), The Carney Family, Warne Family Charitable Foundation, Elizabeth McCoy, Hawaii Hotel Industry Foundation, Michael Reese Enterprises, Microsemi, Green Sneakers, Train4Autism, Cigna, Intercare Therapy, Ready at Dawn, Jimmies Golf, Whole Foods, Aspiriant Holdings and countless others. To everyone who helped us financially, we appreciate you believing in and supporting our mission.
And to TACA families; I know services have dropped to an almost nonexistent level and you are struggling more than ever before. TACA will be here for you. Please keep telling us your needs and we will do our best to help fight for your children’s future.
Finally, to TACA families & friends – The hope I have for my child and all our children remains –Together, we will work towards the future and create positive outcomes for all our kids. 2013 holds much in store for our families including hope for positive change. Happy New Year! Thank you for being a friend.
All my best for 2013 & beyond,
Lisa Ackerman – TACA Executive Director & Founding Board member
Mom to Jeff & Lauren, wife to Glen
P.S. We need additional support for 2013. If you have a friend that would like to make a donation in your family’s honor please help https://www.tacanow.org/ways-to-help/donate/
And this why I am inspired and continue w/our jouney 🙂 —Congrats to everyone for helping let’s ring in the new year!
Thank you for everything, Lisa.
Adore your family Sam. Wish I could be much more helpful to you and especially Jack. I am very hopeful for 2013. It is your year 🙂
My 10 year old grandson is severely autistic (cannot even verbalize much & still wears diapers). What was Jeff like at 10? Did he always have more of a “normal” development, or was it intervention and when?
Jeff severely regressed when he was under 2. He has had many behavioral, speech and occupational therapies including medical intervention unique to his needs. As we treated his complex and debilitating medical issues his therapies would be much more effective. His best progress came after 7 1/2 years of age.
Here is a great article to read on a recent study
Recently, a new study has announced: Many children with autism have other health problems.
I am thrilled to see this evidence finally reported.
TACA can help. Here are all the resources for Families:
1) Find a TACA Chapters http://www.tacanow.org/local-chapters/ . If there isn’t one by you – check out TACA live chat for support. http://www.tacanow.org/about-taca/real-help-now-live-chat/ and TACA Parent mentors http://www.tacanow.org/about-taca/parent-mentor-program/
2) TACA Family Scholarships http://www.tacanow.org/about-taca/family-scholarship-program/
3) Who pays for what http://www.tacanow.org/family-resources/who-pays-for-what-a-guide/
4) Biomedical links
a. Biomedical on a budget http://www.tacanow.org/family-resources/biomedical-treatment-on-a-budget/
b. What is Biomedical treatment for autism https://tacanowblog.com/2011/10/13/biomedical-treatments-and-autism/
5) TACA Autism Journey Blueprints http://www.tacanow.org/family-resources/autism-journey-blueprints-guide/
6) Staying in the game https://tacanowblog.com/2011/11/03/staying-in-the-game/
The oldest kid TACA has helped was a 47 year old man. It is never too late.
Happy new year!
Lisa @ TACA
Thank you for lighting our way Lisa…you are a beacon of hope. Happy days ahead for us all!