EMBRACE AUTISM & SUPPORT OUR CHAMPIONS!
“Our son Hunter has always been a champion!” said Dave Dworsky. Dave and his wife Lori could not be more proud of their son. But for years they were afraid to embrace the fact that he also has autism for fear he would be labeled or stigmatized. “We thought we were keeping Hunter from being labeled, but what we really did was keep others from understanding him, Dave and I from embracing his differences, and our family from receiving the vital supports we needed,” said Lori.
Because Hunter was a good athlete he was able to fit in.
But, typical of individuals affected by autism, he struggled to establish relationships. Hunter played high school varsity football his freshman year and was always a gifted student with a passion for politics and history. However, as he grew older, social anxiety and frustration began to have more of an affect. “If Hunter lost his temper at 12 years old it was manageable, at 21 years old it was very worrisome. If he struggled with anxiety in school and had to come home that was doable, but you can’t expect to do that and keep a job. Things were becoming more and more difficult for Hunter and for us,” said Lori.
When Dave attended the Walk for Autism in 2015 as a business sponsor and saw hundreds of people celebrating their loved ones and embracing autism he immediately called his wife and told her to come see this. “I saw dozens of families like ours, but they were hopeful and happy and obviously connected to a good support system. We never celebrated Hunter’s differences, we always tried to hide them or treat the symptoms. People would suggest we were bad parents because we could not manage our son’s behaviors, at times we felt that way too. We didn’t have a support system that understood what we were going through or what Hunter was experiencing – mostly because we didn’t think we needed help. Seeing all those families and extended families at the Walk rallying behind their children and celebrating autism really moved us. But for some reason we still didn’t reach out for the support we needed,” said the Dworsky’s.
“Not long after seeing the Walk we found ourselves at a crisis point and needed help. We couldn’t do it alone anymore. We didn’t have a plan and we didn’t have much hope. We called Autism Delaware and arranged an emergency meeting with the Parent Mentors. We met for four hours that first day and there were many tears. Finally someone understood exactly what we were going through all these years. Finally someone loved and cared about Hunter without judgement. They coached us on how we could parent more effectively and they provided specific support and direction for Hunter. It was amazing. The Autism Delaware team saved our lives that day. They really did,” said Dave Dworsky.
Autism Delaware’s Parent Mentors will field over 1,400 calls in 2016 from families with a broad range of concerns. For a family affected by autism, concerns may come at any time: a new teacher in school, an IEP meeting, transition into school or into adulthood, and more. Many families affected by autism do not have the necessary supports or information to navigate these challenging situations. That’s where Autism Delaware Family Support staff step in.
Autism Delaware serves as an extended family for Delawareans and their families affected by autism; offering connections and support to families with children who are newly diagnosed, advocacy, awareness, recreational services, clinical services, information and referral, and community-based employment options. We want all people affected by autism to have opportunities to learn, grow and live full lives as included and valued members of their communities. We employ person-centered, individualized services across the lifespan to meet the growing needs. Our approach is creative, innovative as well as evidenced-based. We build capacity in the community through our partnerships and collaborative efforts. We are the leading resource for expertise, advocacy and raising awareness of autism in Delaware. And we want to help!
Today Hunter Dworsky is employed and living his dream of being involved in politics. He was the Deputy Campaign Manager for the State of Delaware for the Republican Party Presidential campaign. Lori is now an educator in an autism classroom and Dave is committed to continuing the sponsorship of Autism Delaware events through his business. The Dworskys have embraced their son Hunter’s diagnosis and now they are taking advantage of the various supports available to them. “My only regret,” said Lori; “Is that we did not come to our senses and reach out for help earlier. We would encourage families to embrace their child or loved one with autism early and utilize all the supports and services available. Our work is not done. But now we embrace autism and support our champion with a great deal of confidence and hope.”
Autism Delaware needs your financial support to continue the mission of helping individuals and families affected by autism. Please consider embracing autism and supporting all our champions and their families by making a contribution to the Autism Delaware Annual Fund today.
To give now click Autism Delaware Annual Fund
To give by mail:
Please forward your gift made out to Autism Delaware to one of our 3 office locations listed below:
(Newark) 924 Old Harmony Road, Suite 201, Newark, DE 19713
(Dover) c/o Dover Downs, 1131 N. Dupont Hwy., Dover, DE 19901
(Lewes) 17517 Nassau Commons Blvd., Unit 1, Lewes, DE 19958