Embrace AuSome is a nonprofit who is raising funds for our local special needs children. Embrace AuSome was founded by myself and my husband, Jason. After our son, Justin, was diagnosed with moderate-to-severe autism spectrum disorder in 2018, it was on our hearts to bring autism awareness and acceptance within our community. We wanted to help offer resources to individuals on the autism spectrum within our schools. It wasn’t until 2021 that we put it into action by hosting a small Autism Awareness walk that April.
With the funds we have raised, we donate to Decatur ISD’s Special Education Department where they were able to purchase a new curriculum that addresses academic and social goals. They were also able to purchase new ipads, apps, and interactive tv’s for the life skills classrooms.
We also donate to Wise County’s Sonflower Camp that is for special needs children and adults, Autism Speaks, and have sponsored the Silhouette Stars special needs movement class with Silhouette Dance Company.
We recently hosted our first Sensory Santa event to allow one-on-one, sensory-friendly time for our special needs families to capture moments with Santa and we are in the process of discussing more sensory-friendly events in Wise County to offer throughout the year.
And that is what Embrace AuSome is!
Embrace AuSome was created in my head when I was navigating life with a newly diagnosed child on the spectrum in a brand new town where I knew no one. We had joined First Baptist Church and attended a life group where some very inquisitive children would ask many questions about our Justin. Or the time a man in Wal-Mart gave me the advice of throwing some water in my son’s face one day when he was suffering from sensory overload while grocery shopping. Or a couple of older kids laughed at our son when he was rubbing his face on a water cooler because he was overly excited to see the image of water on it.
Those were all moments that made me want to raise awareness and acceptance for children like my son. You don’t know what you don’t know – they simply did not know. It takes people like you and me to educate them. If you are a parent of a special needs child, all you want is for the world to see your child as you see them – completely perfect.
Our son was nonverbal until he was almost 6. Since he was unable to communicate his wants and needs, he would become so frustrated and would self-injure himself – usually by banging his head on the floor, slapping himself, or running into walls. About a year ago, he finally started putting together 2-3 word phrases and just 6 months ago, he began speaking in full sentences. He no longer self-injures, but his chipped, front teeth are constant reminders of those days when Justin was trapped in his own world.
It took YEARS of therapies that was available to us through our school district. Middle-class people can’t afford the outrageous private-paid therapies, so we have rely on our educators. If it wasn’t for the amazing SPED staff with Decatur ISD and their therapists, we know our son wouldn’t be where he is today.
And that's just the beginning of our story. I know that the best is yet to come!