Progress to Date

Funds Raised 2019: $142,493

32% of ATPF 2019 Operating Budget

Children Screened: 17,696

SLP Students Trained at SJSU: 2,100

Conor Dawson

Conor Dawson

Conor was born on June 18, 1993 and for the first year or two of his life he seemed as typical as our first child who was just 17 months older. Conor met all the usual milestones at the appropriate time except for speech, which had also been delayed with our first child. Since we had been through that before we didn't panic, but did start questioning our pediatrician when he had trouble sitting at circle time at preschool. He assured us that there was nothing to worry about, but when it didn't get better, and we noticed that he didn't seem to want to play with the other children we grew more concerned.

When we would go to play group at the park Conor would chose to take a nap on the blanket rather that play with the other children - every time! We took Conor to different doctors for more evaluations and were repeatedly told he was fine. When Conor was 3 ½ years old we were finally referred to someone at Children's who we were told knew how to diagnose autism. And sure enough, that was the diagnosis. As awful as it was to hear the diagnosis, it was also a relief to finally know what we were dealing with, so we could start helping Conor. Within two weeks we had hired a group of behavior therapists and set up a home program consisting of 40 hours a week of one-on-one therapy.

It didn't take long to see significant improvements especially in receptive and expressive language. Eventually we added speech therapy and occupational therapy to Conor's very busy schedule. By the time Conor was entering Kindergarten we were able to place him in a mainstream classroom with an aide. He continued there through the 2nd grade when we decided that even though he was able to complete most of the work, he was having trouble with some of it and was still really struggling with social skills. At this time we took Conor to another doctor for an updated assessment. During one of these appointments the doctor suggested that Conor might be having seizures and recommended we follow up with a neurologist to find out. We scheduled a sleep-deprived EEG and it did show some abnormalities. Our neurologist diagnosed complex partial seizure disorder and started Conor on Trileptal. The first few weeks were very difficult because the medicine made Conor so sleepy, even though we started at a very low dose and gradually increased it. He kept falling asleep at school etc. The sleepiness gradually got better and there have been no other side effects and no further signs of the seizures.

This year Conor was in a special education classroom for high-functioning autistic children. It is a small class with a teacher and three aids who really understand autism and have a tremendous talent for working with these kids.

While I would never have chosen to have a child with autism, and wouldn't wish the challenges we've faced on anyone, I can also say that I thank God for giving us such a wonderful, loving, affectionate and happy child. In spite of how hard he has to work each day he almost always has a smile on his face. Because of Conor we have had the opportunity to meet some amazing professionals and volunteers who work tirelessly with these kids to help them reach their full potential.