Tristan Stultz, a ten-year-old who was diagnosed on the autism spectrum with sensory integration dysfunction at the age of three, has faced many challenges in his short life. Tristan’s mother, Greta, recalls learning of her son’s condition as being an “overwhelming diagnosis as a parent to accept, and it has been even harder finding ways to help him overcome his disability, especially financially.”
Sensory integration dysfunction is a neurological disorder that occurs when the brain is unable to integrate information received from the five basic sensory systems that are responsible for detecting sights, smells, sounds, tastes, temperatures, pain, and body movements. The result is a decreased ability to process sensory messages and inefficient motor, language, or emotional output that can include numerous symptoms: oversensitivity or underreactivity to touch, movement, sights, or sounds; a tendency to be easily distracted; activity level that is unusually high or low; impulse control; and social and emotional problems.
Speech and occupational therapies are common treatments for sensory integration dysfunction, and over the years Tristan’s condition improved with the help of trained therapists. Progress was slow, however, due in part to the expensive therapy equipment that was needed at home. As is the case with many families living with autism, Greta and her husband Jeff were unable to afford this necessary but expensive equipment, and were looking for ways to provide Tristan with all of the help he needed.
That’s when they found myASDF. The financial assistance provided by myASDF enabled the Stultz’s to obtain the proper equipment to move forward with his therapy and continue to develop his skills. Since receiving this equipment, Tristan’s skills at occupational therapy have improved so much that his therapist says he may no longer need outside therapy in the very near future.
“myASDF didn’t stop there helping our family,” said Greta. “Last year Tristan outgrew his bike that he’s been learning to ride for several years. Unable to afford a new bike, Greta said, “We turned to myASDF to see if they could help us out. Sure enough, they came to our rescue again. They let Tristan pick out a new bike and made that little guy (and his parents) happy.” Tristan rides his bike often and continues to improve his muscle tone, coordination, balance, and sensory skills while riding.
Tristan has always had sensory issues with water. As parents, Greta and Jeff were worried by the fact that he was growing older and didn’t know how to swim. The expense of swimming lessons in addition to three occupational therapy sessions per week was too much for the family to afford. Recognizing this developmental need, myASDF provided the financial assistance for Tristan to begin receiving special needs swimming lessons at a nearby YMCA.
Tristan’s progress has been amazing. While it was a struggle for Tristan to get into the water past his knees when he first started swimming lessons, now he is comfortable holding his breath and diving under water—and sometimes it’s a struggle to get him out of the pool because he enjoys swimming so much.
“My family would like to thank myASDF for helping our family (and other families like ours) in financial need to help our children to move forward,” said Greta. “Their generosity has given us the help our kids need to grow, learn, and achieve great things in life. myASDF has become a big part of our family's life with all that they have done to help our son overcome obstacles that autism has put in his way. We can't thank them enough for giving so much to our family in need and giving Tristan a chance at a better life. We don't know what we would have done without myASDF.”
myASDF is a charity that supports children with autism spectrum disorders by providing education, information, and financial assistance to their families and relevant community service organizations. Funds donated to myASDF are used to address any and all kinds of issues in assisting children with autism and their families. Visit www.myASDF.org, email myASDF@yahoo.com, or call 877.806.0635 for more information and to see how you can help.