Looking back over the last year, I feel nothing but utmost gratitude at what my vision has become. This journey, that actually started in middle school, took form and shape exactly one year ago when I launched RAD, or Real Autism Difference for my 16thBirthday. The privilege of growing up with a sibling on the Spectrum has allowed me to learn important values in life such as patience, kindness, and giving. However, I also experienced the issues and struggles that come along with raising a family member with Autism. My childhood dream of offering assistance to other families like mine has finally materialized, thanks to the overwhelming support of the community. Over the last year, RAD has grown into something absolutely remarkable.
When first starting this organization, I thought about what RAD could offer as a resource in conjunction with other existing services. I also thought about the puzzle piece that was missing: weekend care, summer programs, and after-school care. When I finished up a typical school day, I went to Safe Key as many other children do. But like numerous other children with Autism, my brother was denied this service: a place where he could interact with other peers with proper supervision and care. One of my initial goals was to create an after-school program for children like my brother. January of 2019, we successfully implemented an after-school program offering a 4:1 child to provider ratio of ABA trained staff, allowing children of varying levels of disability to participate. We have also been able to execute a much-needed Spring Break program and are now in the process of building our Summer program. Finally, starting this May, RAD will be offering a weekend program where parents can drop off their children and take a break for themselves. By our next anniversary, we hope to expand our programs to various locations and eventually, in the future, offer state-wide services.
I am truly humbled and blessed by the countless individuals that have taken the time to learn about the cause and support it. The Southern Nevada community at large has been absolutely extraordinary. I must thank my Board of Directors for their hard work and enthusiasm in making RAD a reality as well as the amazing Community Partners we have been able to work with in the past year. I have learned that small steps and pieces can truly come together and evoke change in a community. It comes from support, diligence, and empathy. We are here to celebrate RAD’s One Year Anniversary: a time to truly recognize what it means to make a Real Autism Difference!