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MidWeek Staff

Finding And Funding Treatments For Autism

By Kent Anderson, executive director, Hawaii Autism Foundation

From his early toddler years, “Keoni” related to the world differently than other kids. He would be diagnosed at age 3 with a disorder that affects one in 88 children: autism. Impacts of autism can manifest in a variety of ways, so Hawaii Autism Foundation (HAF) focuses on programs that offer solutions for the child, family, health provider and caretaker.

Keoni’s struggles included constant environmental overstimulation, stomach pain, frequent tantrums and extreme difficulty verbalizing thoughts and feelings. With information gained from an HAF-sponsored presentation, Keoni’s family was able to get a diagnosis for his digestive problems. Underlying medical conditions are difficult to diagnose for kids on the autism spectrum, since communication is impaired.

Coupled with regular autism behavior intervention and speech support at school, a year later Keoni felt better and continues to achieve a greater potential. He is calmer, pain-free and has more tools to communicate. His parents are so relieved. HAF supporters are humbled to have helped in Keoni’s improvement.

HAF was founded by families with autistic children, and their friends and supporters, to educate and help Hawaii families find and fund treatments for autism spectrum disorders (ASD). Statistics show that ASD solutions are an urgent priority. Since 2007, working with autism service organizations, HAF has benefitted more than 1,000 individuals through:

* Building partnerships to ensure infrastructure exists to meet the needs of children and their families.

* Funding treatment services to provide more than $100,000 in financial support to keiki for treatments not covered by insurance.

* Visiting physician program provides funding for visits from Mainland autism specialists to treat children and educate local physicians.

* Working to pass insurance legislation for coverage of autism behavioral treatments.

HAF board president Julianne King with son Beau raising funds for autism through a charity walk | HAF photo

Many children like Keoni can thrive with proper treatment, and many more deserve access to needed treatments. We encourage you to consider helping autistic children maximize their potential through donations to the HAF, a 501(c)(3) organization. Donations are tax deductible, and 100 percent of your contribution will be used to change the lives of local keiki.

For more information, visit hawaiiautismfoundation.org, email director@hawaiiautismfoundation.org or call 233-9144.

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