Autism Tree Project Foundation Success Stories and Testimonials
Here's some success stories from some of the families the Autism Tree Project has helped.
Dear Tonya Ford,
In early October our family planned a short trip from San Diego to San Francisco but we came close to canceling our plans many times because we were so concerned that our six year old son with sensory processing issues and autism would be traumatized by the airport experience. He flew one time when he was two years old, before he had any diagnosis other than "an immature brain" and developmental delays. That trip was a challenging experience, starting with trying to get through security with his baby brother, strollers, car seats and then the flight itself which was so bad we swore we'd never fly again...
Autism Tree Project Foundation is an extraordinary non-profit organization that is providing indispensable services and support for the Autism community in San Diego County and beyond.
Autism Tree Project Foundation is providing much needed services in San Diego County in several crucial areas: Preschool Screening, Parent Mentoring, and Autism Research. I have had the privilege to partner with Autism Tree Project Foundation through my capacity as a Staff Attorney (previously) and faculty (current) at the University of San Diego, Compass Family Center. As a parent of a child with Autism, I have also benefited directly from their work in the community.
The Autism Tree Project Foundation ("ATPF") was created in 2003 to help build community awareness for autism. The goal of ATPF is to provide a mentoring program for those children suffering from autism and a support system for their families. ATPF seeks to educate and to show autism sufferers that they have a bright future and a lot to look forward to in life.
Savine is ATPF's newest spokesperson. Hers, in particular, is a truly a remarkable story of success. Savine, who’s now almost 12, was diagnosed with Autism and Mental Retardation when she was 3 years old. She was essentially non-verbal and did not speak in full sentences until she was 4 years old.
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.
Chandler was born on May 9, 2001, at a U.S. Naval Hospital in Okinawa, Japan. He is the only child of Marley and Chad Nelms. Unlike many other families who struggle to get an early diagnosis for their child, the Nelms' were lucky to have a close family friend who had experience with autism spectrum disorders. Dr. Mike Ricciardi of Coronado, CA, is a retired Navy Captain with over 20 years of service. He is a board certified child-adolescent psychiatrist. Early on, around 12 months, Marley began to notice that Chandler would look at things from different angles---his head constantly turning to look at things upside down or sideways; he didn't respond when his name was called, had no words, and wasn't yet walking.
At the age of 18 months, our son Christopher was diagnosed with Autism. At the time, we really had no idea what autism was or how it would affect our lives.
Now, two years later and after well over a thousand hours of therapy (Behavioral, Speech, Occupational, Physical), Christopher is just beginning to communicate verbally. Last week he started accurately saying "yes" and "no". We are looking forward to his continual growth in constructive communication. He has worked extremely hard and is currently clocking in over 40 hours per week in therapy; both in home, at school and in clinics.
Thank you so much for doing [the NCL Pals Mother's Day Tea and Museum Tour]. I had a wonderful time with my daughter! As a single mom, I don't get a lot of chances to get out and ensure it is somewhere that my daughter will be ok. It was wonderful to watch my daughter interacting with the other girls and the NCL volunteers. They were all well-prepared to work the with girls and it was great to watch.
I am a clinical psychologist with a practice dedicated solely to the assessment and treatment of children and adolescents with Autism and Asperger's Disorder and their families. I have been a part of ATPF in a variety of roles since its inception in 2003. Most recently, I have dedicated my time to the Parent Mentor Program.
ATPF is a grassroots organization started by Dayna and Todd Hoff when their son, Garret was diagnosed with autism. Dayna Hoff is passionate about her visions for early intervention that include a preschool screening program, preschool teacher training program, and the parent mentor program. Her infectious enthusiasm spreads to others making these projects not only take off, but grow. I have witnessed this with the Parent Mentor Program that started with a simple desire to support families with newly diagnosed children, to serving over 100 families in the San Diego community in the last year.
Over the last three years, the University of San Diego Torero football team has had the pleasure of working with the Autism Tree Projection foundation in making a difference in young people's lives. Among the many different activities and events that we put on, the winter wonderland is the crème de la crème of all events. It's a night full with jubilation and tears; happy tears that is. The jubilation comes from the interaction between our players and the kids. On the other hand, the happy tears come from parents seeing their kids interacting with the players.
I stumbled on the Autism Tree Project quite by accident. I was convinced my then 3 year old son was autistic. However, since he was “high functioning,” it was hard to get support for my idea, let alone intervention. So I searched the web and found a preschool training seminar being run by ATP the next night. It was clearly a private party for pre-school teachers that were required to be there and I was quite out of place, but not for long.
Thank you for putting together such awesome and thoughtful programs for our families. My daughter Summer, my husband and I really enjoy coming to these events. We have noticed Summer growing in confidence and willingness to try new challenges to her "comfort zone" as a result of participating in several ATPF programs. She keeps asking about Football and is excited to go again to a USD Football game. It is such a relief to us to be able to give her opportunities where she is surrounded by caring and understanding people. It reduces our stress as parents, which reduces her stress in return. I guess we are all growing in our confidence and willingness to try new challenges! Thank You so much!
The ATPF/USD mentor program has been one of the greatest opportunities in my life to work with some of the most wonderful kids in the world.
The kids at ATPF have taught me more about life and myself than anything else I have ever encountered. I have had the chance to work with some of the happiest and most energetic kids in the world, which only rubs off on me in the best way. I have created friends with kids that will last a lifetime, especially with my man, Aaron Bronstein.