I am Amy Gilmore, a good friend of mine, Shannon Gonzalez, has a daughter named Jessica. Jessica is autistic and I have watched with admiration as my friend has done everything she possibly can to give her daughter a good life. Often, I watched my friend struggle and even though she never complains, or even talks about the burden she carries, as her friend I know that it is difficult.
I asked Shannon what type of assistance she received to help care for Jessica and she told me that she received very little. Shannon always wanted to work, but if she worked she would only be able to work for a few hours each day while Jessica is in school. So, at best she could get a part time job. If she was able to find a job during that time period she could work, but then she would lose what little she receives to care for Jessica. I was shocked to hear this.
The state pays homes created by individuals funding for each resident. That funding is a substantial amount of money, however families caring for their autistic family member are not given that same funding, which puts a financial strain on many families. When the burden becomes too much these families are left with no other option except sending their loved one to a home.
There are many autistic people and those who are born with disabilities that prevents them from working. As I watched my friend struggle I suggested that we start a non-profit organization, to help Jessica. I told Shannon, something must be done. These individuals deserve to enjoy life and have fun new experiences, with their families.
No family should be forced to place their autistic family member in a home and they should not have to sacrifice their quality of living. They should have the opportunity to experience new adventures with their loved ones. The idea to start this organization first came to me several years ago and a seed was planted then, that in the perfect time would bloom into Autistic Arts.