This season when you make a gift, you make a difference.
Dear Friends of Jawonio,
Asperger’s Disorder & Autism affect so many families whose struggles can be invisible to others. It can become
overwhelming to face everyday challenges. Our son Danny had Asperger’s and always had a full week: from preschool through high school, days were tightly structured with school, physical therapy, occupational therapy, counseling, social skills classes, and more.
Why so much therapy? For a child with Asperger’s, an autism spectrum disorder, the things that are easiest for everyone else are the hardest for him. Most kids love lunch and recess; for Danny, it was a chaotic time filled with overstimulating noise and unpredictable activity. Most people know intuitively how to enter a conversation; for Danny, it took years of speech-language therapy to hone both the inflection, content, and appropriateness of his conversation. It meant a lot of time spent working on himself just to manage through every day. Then the weekend would come and the calendar page would show large blank squares of empty space.
As parents, we alternated between sighing in defeat and spinning our wheels in frustration as we searched far and wide for a social group, an activity, a meet-up, something for Danny to do on the weekends with peers. All too often, he would end up isolated in his room. There was nothing out there for kids like him to look forward to; as though all of their difficulties magically vanished every Friday afternoon and they could simply get in step with the rest of the neuro-typical world. All that pain took its toll, and Danny ended his life in April, 2015. When we had to decide where to send donations in Danny’s memory, we knew it had to be Jawonio.Why Jawonio? Danny led us to that decision himself. After he died, when we tearfully unpacked the possessions we had scooped up from his college dorm room, we found a large Ziploc bag with the words “Tzedakah for Jawonio” written in Sharpie marker. “Tzedakah” – charity – was always a part of Danny’s life, and Jawonio had always been the organization he chose to support, because he so valued what Jawonio did for people with challenges like his.
Last month, we turned our devastating grief into “Danny’s Promise,” a program built within Jawonio’s PROmiSe program, which stands for Personalized Recovery Oriented Services. PROmiSe has been an invaluable resource, empowering individuals in their journey of recovery for many years. Prior to “Danny’s PROmiSe,” weekends were beyond the scope of services, but now, this program continues interventions into the weekend, offering community and work integration supports and social integration skills to young adults with a variety of challenges, including Asperger’s and autism. PROmiSe offers opportunities for self-fulfillment, self-empowerment, and social connection.
Please, help us keep Danny’s Promise by supporting the Jawonio PROmiSe program this holiday season. Every tax-deductible gift will help end the pain of isolation and bring recovery and meaning to so many lives. Everyone should be able to look forward to the weekend.
Judy and David Klein