The Handmacher Family – A Family’s Journey
On August 12, 2003 my husband Nathan and I welcomed our first child, William, into the world. Filled with joy and excitement, we could hardly wait to see what the future had in store for us and our new son. Little did we know that in six months we would begin seeing “red flags” in William’s development. At the young age of fifteen months our son would be diagnosed as having autism. Eleven years later we are now the proud parents of four children.
Autism affects William and our family in many ways. William is challenged most by his inability to speak. As with many children on the autism spectrum, tantrums and aggressive behavior are also difficulties for William and our family. Thankfully, William is usually a happy and loving child, and enjoys activities like swimming, playing outside and going to school.
William attends Woody’s Song School, a program of The Learning Tree. The Learning Tree offers children with developmental disabilities intensive and individualized educational programs through their residential schools in Jacksonville, Mobile and Tallassee, preschools in Auburn, Mobile and Anniston, as well as Woody’s Song School in Mobile. William has made significant progress since he began attending Woody’s Song, including learning to use an iPad “talker” to help him communicate. With some prompting, William is now able to communicate basic wants and needs with his “talker.” Recently he surprised us when we passed by a familiar pool and, unprompted, he told us he wanted to go swimming! With William we celebrate the smallest of achievements because they take a lot of work for him to accomplish. Seeing William acquire critical skills makes our family very proud and gives us great hope for his future. It also makes us grateful for the work of The Learning Tree and the amazing staff at Woody’s Song School.
We owe so much to The Learning Tree, and we are not alone. Each Learning Tree family has their own unique story of their child’s journey with autism. The Learning Tree is dedicated to helping families face the challenges of autism and other developmental disabilities, but they cannot do it alone. Nathan and I have made a commitment to raise $100,000 for The Learning Tree. We recognize that our goal is a challenge, but if we as parents of a child living with this mysterious and often extremely challenging condition are not willing to put ourselves out there and commit to make a difference, who will?
We ask you to please show your support for The Learning Tree by making your own donation to the program. If you have donated recently, THANK YOU for your support. If you have not made a donation, please consider the 400 children and families from across our state who benefit from the services of The Learning Tree. It is only with your help that the program can continue to serve them. Please make your donation today to give children like William the opportunity to become all that they can be!