Hope Center 4 Autism: Just Miles by Dillion Steen

August 18, 2015


In 2013 I was introduced to Susan and Glenn Wood in a way that many have been introduced to them, they were helping. I had broken my ankle and was drowning in medical bills with no insurance. Aubrey Lynn England organized a benefit on my behalf and the “highest bidder” received a concert. Well, Susan and Glenn Wood saw this and jumped in with both feet. Not only did they help me by being the highest bidder, to which the funds came to me, but they also turned it into a fundraiser for Hope Center 4 Autism. See to them it wasn’t about them winning anything, it was a way to help many with one kind act. Kind acts, Susan and Glenn and all the great folks at Hope Center not only preach it, they practice and live it and breathe it, day in and day out.

So many artists have traveled in the doors of Hope Center 4 Autism to play music for the kiddos there. I would have to say though, in my opinion, Dempsey Pullen is the one artist who has really been a driving force of that. Early on he was rounding up his musical friends to go down to the center with him and play music. Music days, Christmas parties, fundraisers, etc. etc. to try and help the center, had music involved with it. Hand in hand, Susan and Glenn have grown to be some of the biggest supporters of the music scene and the bonds of love and respect flow through all involved.

I have a friend that has an autistic child but I will admit I did not understand much about autism. I still don’t claim to know much but when you read stories like the one here, you will understand why and how Hope Center 4 Autism is necessary and the difference they make in lives. I have withheld the author’s name for family privacy purposes, but it is a story everyone needs to read. After doing so I hope that you understand how much difference you too can create, by just helping.

“It wasn’t the end of the world but it was the end of our world. My 1 in 68. February 26, 2010 an autism diagnosis took something away from me. It took years and The Hope Center for Autism to bring it back.

It was 2010. I had a two year old and had no idea who he was; I couldn’t remember what his voice sounded like, I didn’t know what colors he liked, I didn’t even know what toys he liked. I was living with a shell of my child who ran, laughed and cried but with no purpose behind his actions. It was like his soul didn’t exist. I was so angry that my child was stuck in this chaotic world seemed hopeless and everyone else was sharing stories about their perfect typical children. He was wild. He constantly ran from wall to wall in our house. He jumped off couches, tables, beds, and chairs. If he wasn’t running, he was screaming or crying. His lack of eye contact was evident. I knew he could hear me but none of his actions showed it He didn’t want to play with me or any toy. It was impossible to get him to engage with me, most of the time he didn’t even know I was there.

By April 2010 we were clients at The Hope Center for Autism. I say “we” because they took in our entire family, not just our 1 in 68. My life was now split into two parts: before and after Hope Center. They navigated us through milestones I never thought he would reach.

Nine months into ABA therapy, we heard our first word. After a year, he mastered making eye contact and coming when called. Drinking through a straw, using a fork, and playing appropriately were all every day tasks the therapists at Hope labored over. They believed in him-even when I couldn’t. They could see the little boy that autism was over shadowing. They could see him.

When he was 4.5 years old, we started the big P-potty training. Two years. It took two years to fully potty train this child. Two years of therapists coming up with new strategies to make him successful; not once did anyone at Hope Center say this task was too big for him to accomplish.

Another daunting task was taking him out in public, specifically grocery stores. The Hope Center for Autism therapists, again, accepted this challenge (five years later we are still practicing). They accompanied us to the store over and over and we continually refined our strategies to help him be successful.

Autism comes with many layers. Aside from the emotional strain of missed milestones, financial hardship lurks. The Hope Center for Autism has given us grant assistance, scholarship opportunities, and they take on the insurance companies directly. It costs over $100,000 a year for my son to attend therapy full time. This would not be possible if it wasn’t for the efforts of The Hope Center.

After a while you just get used to people not understanding autism. The world is laced with judgment (which is usually rooted in ignorance and fear of the unknown) put upon my family and specifically my son daily. The Hope Center for Autism understands. If we arrive at Hope and I ask for someone to help get my son out of the car because he is naked and having a tantrum, there is no hesitation. No explaining and no judgment.

One of the most amazing things that can happen is finding people who see him for who he is and expect nothing less. One in 68 children has autism. He is 1 in 68. But to Hope Center he is just Miles.”
To support Miles and his family and others living a similar life, Go to www.hopecenter4autism.org or call Adrienne at 817-560-1139 ad ask her how to help.