TRANSFORMING THE HEALTH OF OUR COMMUNITY
Your investment in life
The way Alex D. sees it, an invisible and impenetrable window separates him from the rest of the world.
“One taxi driver starting asking Alex, ‘Why don’t you drive? Who do you live with?” Alex’s mom Teri says. “He tells Alex, ‘I don’t think my turn signals are working. Can you get out of the car and check them’?
“The guy pulled the cab over,” she adds. “Of course, Alex got out and checked. The driver was making fun of my son.”
Alex is 25 years old and lives with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and an anxiety disorder. He laughs in stressful situations and does not easily make eye contact. People pick up on the quirks that come along with his disorders. Some, like that cab driver, can be cruel.
Luckily, Alex is not alone on his side of the window. When he was 16, he and Teri started a group for adolescents and young adults on the spectrum and their families. It is now ASD Life Transitions. One of an array of free resources and programs offered by AMITA Health Alexian Brothers Autism Spectrum & Developmental Disorders Resource Center, the group provides an often isolated cohort with opportunities to socialize, have fun and be themselves.
“It’s really nice to know that our kids have places to go, where they can be who they naturally are and be valued for what they bring,” says Teri.
Still, she adds, “I think the only way the window will be removed—not just for autism spectrum disorders but across all disabilities, across race and religion—is for people to accept each other as they are and embrace differences.”
Last year philanthropy provided resources, support groups and early interventions to more than 900 families impacted by ASD, like Teri’s. It supported charity care for individuals in need of specialized behavioral health treatment and community-based therapies for thousands of individuals with severe and persistent mental illness.
Nearly 20 percent of the thousands of people served by the Center for Mental Health were under age 18, as were more than half of the individuals who received outpatient treatment from AMITA Health Alexian Brothers Behavioral Health Hospital, Hoffman Estates.
“Throughout my stay at the outpatient program, I realized I have to try to get better, and I can get there. It’s possible,” says 14-year-old Peyton M. “It’s been tremendous how much the staff has helped me. I’ve made really good friends along the way. Honestly, I can’t thank them enough for what they’ve done.”BACK TO MAIN PAGE