Advocacy, opportunity and unparalleled love.
In the year 2001, I gave birth to a beautiful baby boy. My husband and I were overflowing with love and joy as we brought our first born home. We reveled in parenthood and had never-ending hopes for the future but in the blink of an eye, one phone call turned our lives upside down.
At the tender age of 2-years-old, our son, Kasten Joshua Rich (affectionately known as Joshua), was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Like many families, we did not know what to expect and the grieving process ensued. For 3 days, my husband and I cried as we tried to process the diagnosis. On that 3rd day, my husband said, “Joshua is a gift, it’s time to roll up our sleeves and go to work for him!” From that moment on, despite our financial limitations, we advocated for Joshua and made sure that he had every resource necessary moving forward. From speech and occupational therapy to applied behavioral analysis (ABA), the diagnosis took a major toll on our family, both mentally and financially, but love triumphed. When you don’t understand why you can’t hold your child or how they will make friends at school, you learn to look at life through a new lens. For us, that meant seeing hope and opportunity at every corner and doing everything we could to ensure that our son had a fighting chance. We welcomed our baby girl, just a few short years after Joshua’s diagnosis and the two of them have taught my husband and I more about resilience, love and compassion than we could have ever imagined.
As we’ve remained active in the autism community, we recognize the need for families to have increased support and access to activities that are inclusive and engaging. This, coupled with our growing desire to do more, became the inspiration for “Joshua’s Gift”.
Joshua’s Gift rallies behind families to give a voice to those affected by autism. By building lasting connections and community, we foster an environment of acceptance and inclusion. Here are a few words from the individuals and families we serve.
We are forever grateful to the many champions we have in the community who support our cause. You have changed the lives of families with your humility...
In 2019 with the help of our champions we plan to amplify the inclusion of individuals with autism to make sure they are provided a seat at the table.