Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Lead With Innovative Thinking

Having been raised in a family who's parents did not have knowledge of me and my sibling's autistic traits, I can say, unequivocally, it's a bad thing that today's generation of children are, too often, being encouraged to lead with their "autism title" rather than being helped to lead with innovative thinking.

I can't count the number of times when I've heard parents come up to me giddy about what amazing thing their "autistic child" did. All my parents (especially my mom) cared about was that we were well mannered, all while not suppressing our appetite for exploration. Yes, there are boundaries and that's what the 'well mannered' part of parenting is about. If I had a question, my father was very good at telling me to 'look it up' in a book for myself. He was, also, insistent that I speak coherently, not using the slang, vernacular or even the regional dialect of my surroundings. I was let loose to play outside in the dirt, gravel, grass or whatever other outdoor thing there was to do. I had a curfew to be back before a certain time, after homework was done, of course. Yes, we live in more dangerous times. Environments matter. I was living in Linden, New Jersey during this time. Lots of concrete. Not the most safe or pleasant neighborhood, however, I followed the rules. I was happy to do that for my parents. They gave me much freedom and I didn't want to disappoint them. My feelings remain the same way for them, today.

So, with all the new dangers and issues in today's society, including an onslaught of digital information via the virtual world, created through Internet access, how can family's cope? Good question that has many nuanced answers, I'm sure. The best thing to focus on, even today, is communicating with your child as early as possible. No babbling to our babies. They're in a learning phase that, in many ways, is beyond the comprehension of most adults ignorant of the powerful learning capacity human beings have between ages zero and three.

The best way to ensure the next generation thinks innovatively is by allowing (even encouraging) them to explore and research. We need new sustainable ways to do things. The old ways are dirty and carsinogenic. We can clearly see this due to increases of cancers, allergens, foods that no longer hold nutritional value, the disappearance of fresh water...it goes on and on.

A child diagnosed as autistic need not be emotionally tethered to the notion that only their spectrum traits make them, either, super special or irretrievably doomed. Let's not be training a generation of children to become adults who'll be convinced their value to society is, at best, limited, or, at worst, non-existent. If we're not careful, a label can, inadvertently, become the crutch many will use to claim needing indefinite assistance (even though high-functioning and quite capable) or be the reason many become inconsolably hopeless. We are not a subset of the human race. We are equal members of it and should be treated as such. That is our right as human beings. The first folks that should be thinking innovatively are the adults; parents, caregivers and educators instructing the next generation of living souls who will, ultimately, be in control of how we are treated in our twilight years. What kind of adults do you want taking care of an old you? A generation of adults that resents the previous generation for not giving them the basic tools of survival, will not be a pretty time to live through. The time is now. 

Let's lead, now, so the next generation has a purposeful example of how to proceed in what will be some very challenging times. 


Thursday, August 23, 2012

Spot Light: Tustin High Key Club

Here's proof that, with the right mentors, children and young adults can be inspired to do good things for their communities. Case in point, the Tustin High Key Club is scheduling a "second" annual fund raiser for us, headed by Tustin Key Club advisor, Ms. Annie Tran. We received this tweet: "@MsAnnieT: We are trying to set up a date for the Tustin Key Club Autism Benefit Show. We're hoping for something in the week of 2/18." These young people deal with autism in their community and could've picked ANY organization in the country (or world) to support. Their outreach to us and this particular effort means everything to us. We will not take the dedication of these teens for granted.

For those of you in or around the Tustin, California area, please, support the efforts of the Tustin HS Key Club. Support their Autism Benefit Show. Better yet, I'm calling on (and challenging) my colleagues in the music industry to really step up. Donate treasure, time or talent. Contact them through the links provided. Ask how you can help. If these teens, who were not even asked to do this, can step up to this very specific empowerment cause, I know many in the music industry can do the small thing of, at least, supporting their efforts. As adults, let's show these young people we've not forgotten how to look out for one another.


Michael Buckholtz/Founder
Aid for Autistic Children Foundation 


Saturday, March 31, 2012

The Cost: Autism Past, Present and Future

We all know the cost to raise an autistic child is exorbitant. We don't need fancy well funded research teams to tell us that. We live it, am I right? However, since we do live in a world where many people make up their own facts, let me lay 'em out so folks can see.


When I started thinking about putting together a non-profit that could best help the Autistic Community with a core need, not just "information peddling", but, real boots-on-the-ground services that are solution oriented, I felt it best to focus on one thing. I wanted this organization to be the best at what it did. I wanted it to actually solve a problem. The most glaring one was finance. Many, including my own father and mother, become overwhelmed financially because of the unique circumstances faced when raising children on (and at) any level of the autism spectrum. Burdensome debt accumulates, whether it's because of unique biomedical treatments, experimental diets, continued basic childcare into adulthood (diapers, etc.), social skills therapies, educational enhancements or just plain cutting back from or giving up a career, due to the exceptional time needed to care for an autistic loved one, with no foreseeable end in sight. So, what is a family to do? This, to me, seemed the item that needed the most attention because without the appropriate financial understanding of autism's cost, families across the country would fall deeper into unrelenting debt and the tax payers will (at the government's behest) foot the bill for what they can't carry. That's what we're doing...right now.


In a study released in 2006 by the Harvard School of Public Health, Assistant Professor Michael Ganz, authored a study that, essentially, put the annual cost of autism to the U.S. at $35 billion. That was then. By 2010, that figure ballooned to a cost of more than $90 billion annually. This rate of increased cost is staggering! If the past suggests anything, this is only going to get worse if we don't get it under control.


Fast forward to today. The latest study, released by Autism Speaks, puts the 2011 U.S. cost of autism at $126 billion. That's an increase of 140% in one year! Okay. Want some perspective on this? The hugely unpopular Iraq war cost the U.S. $10 billion per month. In comparison, that puts the cost of autism on track to, annually, be way more than the Iraq war! Here's a simple break down. From the time of the first widely recognized study (2006), there's been an average increase of about $22.75 billion, annually, to the cost of autism. If it continues on this path (at this pace), we're looking at a potential annual U.S. cost of about $240 billion, by 2016. There is no mathematical way for this to be sustainable. We need to create a financial instrument that will level the playing field for the Autistic Community at a fraction of the cost to the U.S. government.

Aid for Autistic Children Foundation figured out how to assist 155 families annually by only raising $174 million dollars, once. Not only will AACF, Inc. be able to financially empower the Autistic Community, it will do it year after year. Our 'one of a kind' service provider program allows us to assess all applicants thoroughly leaving no doubt who is eligible. Next, we apply the one time "Debt Forgiveness Grant" towards the obstructive debt, then, follow up with a comprehensive "Kitchen Table 101" finance training. This will be tailored according to that particular family's or autistic individual's circumstance. No. You're not imagining things. AACF, Inc. only needs to raise $174 million...once. That's it. We won't need anymore funding. We can get to work...boots on the ground! This is sustainable. In turn, we will be training one hundred plus families and individuals, annually, how to save for their future and the future of their autistic child. They will get schooling in how to responsibly maintain a life free from obstructive debt. This way, the Autistic Community becomes a source of monetary power that helps to stabilize the U.S. economy verses draining it. Best of all, AACF, Inc. is duplicable.

Let's do something to put an end to the fleecing of the Autistic Community. This is not going to go away on it's own. Much of the general public may be thinking this does not affect them. However, if your country is shelling out $126 billion dollars to care for many of those whom are autistic, you best believe you ARE inv
olved and paying for it. We all need to be proactive and change the direction of this fiscal issue. Join my movement at Aid for Autistic Children Foundation.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Tustin HS Key Club Hits the Right Note in 2012

We want to send out a very big Thank You to the Tustin HS Key Club, in California, headed by Annie Tran. They held a Benefit Concert to raise funds for the Autistic Community. All totaled, the tally was over $1,900 raised! What a serious kick-start to 2012! If you want to fund-raise like Annie Tran did, anyone can find a Key Club in or near their surrounding area of residence through the Kiwanis International Foundation. Get involved.

We're holding out a great deal of hope for fundraising this year. It's essential the Autistic Community gets this assistance. Debt and unemployment remain highest among autistic people and their families. It's our mission to empower them through our comprehensive financial program. We, again, thank the Tustin HS Key Club for such a good jump start. There's much more to do. Let's go!

Friday, December 16, 2011

What Really Matters?

Love. Peace. Kindness. Forgiveness. No one would or should complain against such things. Those behaviors are the best of us as human beings. Let's not forget to extend that to the poor, homeless and hungry. If you're celebrating, participating or indulging in any government sanctioned holidays (yes...Christmas is one of them...), please, remember those in poverty, homelessness and without food. Thank you.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Show Your Solidarity

Show your solidarity for Aid for Autistic Children Foundation, Inc. and represent direct empowerment to families and autistic adults by getting a lapel pin. We, only 6 months after being officially recognized as a federal 501(c)3 in June 2010, forgave the debt of a struggling, impoverished, homeless mother, raising her autistic teen, who battles severe learning disabilities, in Gulfport, Mississippi. Now, they have a home and are empowered to do more for themselves. We do what we say. We want to do more, but, we need donations. Tell your friends, family and anyone who'll listen to show their solidarity for an innovative program that works by getting and wearing our lapel pin. We do not have money for fancy television, Internet or radio ads. It's through your voices that our program gets recognition and grows strength. Prove that small grassroots organizations like ours can do big things. Share this with others. Thank you, so much.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

We Are Small, But, Doing Big Things

We continue to receive e-mail after e-mail and letter after letter of families raising autistic children about to lose their homes. The same stories are accumulating about the losing of transportation. Almost none of these families are asking for money, but, it's the lack thereof that's creating their situation. Admittedly, reading these day after day is heartbreaking.

Aid for Autistic Children Foundation is doing everything it can to raise the funds
allowed since 2008 (in a limited capacity) and officially (on a much grander scale) as a 501(c)3 in June of 2010. It's a miracle we're even an organization. Debt forgiveness? Whoever heard of such a thing? No one. We're it. We need the general public's engagement in this humanitarian effort or we will not be able to help anyone else.

We successfully assisted a family, from Gulfport, MS., in December 2010. They were homeless for several days. Through donations (and nothing else), we were able to empower them to apply for a program that got them the home they needed. Yes, we empowered them through debt forgiveness. Even the faith-based non-profit that assisted us with this families details couldn't believe what we did was real. They were in shock. We are the real deal.

For us to continue being "the real deal", we need the public's support through donations. There are no government grants or loans for organizations that do what we do. We are small. We do not have multi-million dollar overhead like many corporate autism non-profit organizations in the media spotlight, today. We believe as a small organization, we can still do big things and did so. We saved a family from homelessness. That's big. We didn't give them a home. We didn't give them monies for a down payment. We simply forgave a debt that was hampering them from moving forward with their lives. That's it. They needed to be empowered to do what was necessary to care for an autistic teen with many severe emotional disabilities. That's all that his mother asked, humble and simple.

Please, spread the word that we need donations, even if you are unable to give. Someone you know can give, even if it's a little. Donate here. Every bit helps. We need to keep the doors open, but, more importantly, families are contacting us by the dozens requesting enough assistance to simply keep their homes so they can do what's best for their autistic child. These children need us to help them become empowered independent productive citizens. That's less likely to happen if they start off impoverished and
without proper family support.