Local families facing autism work to provide support for each other

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GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. The number of people with autism spectrum disability continues to grow nationally, as funding and services for the disability here on the Western Slope is lacking. Families of kids who struggle with autism were given the chance to share stories and resources, to fight the challenges of a difficult developmental disability.

"It’s a celebration to look at all the wins we've had and see that I have survived it,” Karen Ledebur said, a mother with two autistic sons. “ And there were days that I didn’t think that was possible"

Ledebur’s two sons, age 21 and 19, were both diagnosed with autism at an early age, and now have grown up to be successful adults with one attending college and the other with a full time job. She wants other families to know things that people say aren't possible, absolutely are.

"They have friends. They are with people who will never judge them,” Ledebur said. “People who have walked a mile in their shoes, and I hope that is encouraging for them.

Occupational therapists say there is a growing need of resources for those families with children facing this developmental disability.

"Autism is growing exponentially. We don't know exactly why but awareness is critical," Jodi Draper explained, a therapist.

Statistics from the Centers for Disease Control say 1 in 88 American children are on the autism spectrum, a 600 % prevalence over the past two decades. Funding, however, has been a road block for those services.

"Unfortunately the services do not even come close to the serving the need,” Sarah Johnson, with STRiVE explained. “A lot of families go to Denver and we are trying to change that for families."

Parents were able to meet with therapists as well, to find out ways to help their child with their different sensory experiences, non-standard ways of learning, focused thinking and needs for routine, to make it the best situation for both the family, and the child.

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