By Lisa Ackerman
This month, 14 years ago the first TACA meeting was held in my family’s living room. Wow, it’s been 14 years!
Back then, I was scared and starved for information. Our son was 3 years old and diagnosed with autism. We did not know what to do. We were hoping that by inviting families into our home we could learn together and not feel so alone.
The meeting notice I sent out was sent on the internet in the early days. The announcement included my home address and phone number (and thankfully we moved away from that house 12 years ago!)
Are you living with a child with autism? Are you lost looking into diets, special education services, legal issues, therapy options and medical interventions? Let’s learn to find answers for our children together!
How TACA was born was truly an Ackerman family effort involving my husband, daughter and son. Then it eventually expanded to involve the rest of my extended family. Our beautiful daughter Lauren was the main person who encouraged us to start TACA and our first webmaster. My husband found himself in the backyard playing with other children and talking to other husbands while the wives gathered in the living room to discuss topics at hand.
Within six months two incredible things happened:
– We grew out of my living room and had to relocate to a church that could hold 100 people for meetings.
– Several attendees asked about starting a TACA Chapter as all were driving 1-3 hours to attend each monthly meeting. I wrote about that here (1.)
This month alone TACA held over 40 meetings and coffee talks in 20 states (these stats don’t include special events.) I know there is greater need for more meetings and I wish I had the ability to meet those needs. This is why we have added webinars so more people can obtain information even if they don’t have a local chapter in their area (2.)
TACA currently supports approaching 40,000 families through 12 of our programs. We have an incredible staff and a great number of volunteers who help. I am grateful for the TACA model of helping one family, one child at a time through the efforts of these incredible individuals.
This mission has been a blessing and a hardship for our family. It has brought us together to help our beloved family member and help others around the nation. It has also hit us with many challenges, which I won’t cover at this time since we are celebrating an anniversary.
My family has received a lot from having started TACA. I feel like I have aged more, like in dog years!
I am sure my husband misses my supermodel face and body (Ha!) However, the other side of that statement is that I have reaped many rewards from TACA families. I love all our children and firmly believe in their ability to become the best they can be. TACA has also greatly helped me in finding answers for our son, the reason we were inspired to this organization. His name is Jeff; he is my hero.
In recognition of our anniversary this is a quick reminder to state TACA has always done everything on a small budget and courageous volunteers. If TACA has helped you, I would like families and friends to share their gratitude between now and December 3rd. Longtime supporter the Orange County Community Foundation has created a social media initiative to #voteyourthanks so you can vote for the foundation that you support. Please vote for Talk About Curing Autism by clicking here daily: http://www.connectoc.org/vote.aspx. Please share the link with all your friends and family and remind them that they can vote until December 3, 2013.
Thanks for reading about our anniversary and for helping with the #voteyourthanks initiative during this important time of year. We have much more work to do to help families living with autism and appreciate all your support. Let’s see what the next 14 years brings!
2) Find a meeting http://www.tacanow.org/local-chapters/
TACA webinars http://www.tacanow.org/webinars/
3) Orange County Community Foundation – Vote your thanks campaign http://www.connectoc.org/vote.aspx