“Parent power” has fueled much of the movement to better understand and treat Autism. Parents have started organizations that fund research, provide resources, and have put the disorder into the national spot light.
Linda Kuepper’s son Michael is 15. He was diagnosed with autism as a toddler and as he got older, Kuepper noticed that her son was becoming socially isolated. “There wasn’t any birthday parties that he got invited to, there wasn’t a friend that would come over and hang out with him.”
Together with her husband Frank, Kuepper started the Autism Cares Foundation and organized activities for families affected by Autism in Bucks County. Movie nights, glee club, fitness classes, dances, proms — she says having these simple options makes a huge difference in the lives of teens with Autism, and their families. “They have friends, they have a life, they enjoy themselves, their siblings even get to take part and get to connect with other siblings who are going through their same life!”
The annual Race for Resources hosted by Kuepper’s organization at Council Rock High School North in Newtown is one of the main fundraisers for these activities. Kuepper says her organization wants to expand resources to help young adults live themost fulfilled, independent lives possible.
“There are less services provided for them, and the need is great for job skills, and training, job coaches, and finding jobs for them, and right now it’s very difficult to carry through and help them, after the age of 21,” she explained.
Kuepper’s long-term goal is to build a “life cycle” resource center that helps people with autism throughout their lives and could even provide housing.