Voices of Autism: ‘He is a Fighter’

 Every day throughout April–Autism Awareness Month–we will be featuring a different reader-submitted story about living with autism. Today’s story was written by Spring Burke, mother of Austin, 8:

Imagine if your child had zero friends, if he was never invited to birthday parties, if he was constantly made fun of? Well, I don’t have to imagine it, I live it. Our son Austin is a bright, loving, and compassionate child. He has been through so much in his eight years of life. He is a fighter and has brought so much joy to our entire family.

When Austin was diagnosed, we knew that the state we were living in was not equipped to deal with his needs. So we moved our family from Louisiana to Indiana, leaving all of our immediate family behind. We lived in Indiana for three years, and Austin made great progress. But we were in serious debt, because insurance barely covered any of his treatments. It was hard, at times, deciding which therapies we could afford and which ones we couldn’t. Some could have potentially helped our son, but we couldn’t get them because they were too expensive. Do you have any idea how frustrating that is as a parent?

When Austin was entering kindergarten, we knew that the school system was not able to handle his needs, and we were drowning in debt, so we decided to move. Again. We moved from Indiana to Pennsylvania. Pennsylvania has much better coverage of Austin’s needs, and we were able to get insurance coverage regardless of our income. People don’t realize that most states won’t grant coverage if your income exceeds their limits. Pennsylvania has longer wait lists, but we know that we made the right choice for our son. Do we like where we live, do we enjoy being away from our extended families? The answer is no, but we don’t get a choice on where we live: At this point in our lives we have to live in a state that has great autism coverage. Our entire lives were turned upside down when we received his autism diagnosis, but we have chosen to make the best of it and to provide everything in our power to help him to succeed in life.

To read previous stories in this series, click here. For instructions on how to submit your story, click here.

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  1. by Stephanie

    On April 8, 2011 at 10:24 am

    I’m currently living in Louisiana and feel your pain. I’ve had to fight tooth and nail to get the help Sammy needs for autism and because she’s blind. Schools were not equipt to handle her. It was a hard figh, but were getting what she needs. I wish moving had been an option

  2. by debi9kids

    On April 9, 2011 at 1:14 pm

    I currently also live in PA and have found the services here for my pre-k aged son to be decent (although not as good as when we lived in NJ )

    I’m sorry you have had to make so many moves to get what you need for your son but certainly commend you for doing what comes as second nature when you’re a mama…putting your child first.

  3. by Natasha

    On April 10, 2011 at 12:56 pm

    It’s wonderful that you’re doing that for him. I wish I could do the same for my girl. Unfortunately I’m a single mom and unable to move. I live in FL and the services here are dismal in our area. Austin is so lucky to have you. :)