Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Autism Awareness Month/Gift of Giving

April is Autism Awareness month and I have waited until the last day to post about it. I don't have any kids with autism or any family for that matter. BUT, I do have a few patients with Autism and they are the most challenging but most rewarding patients. You can't just do a normal routine exam. You have to come up with creative ways to get the same information. And I LOVE it! It is what really makes me appreciate being an eye doctor and getting to help people every day.

I am also a member of the Lion's club of Yazoo City and meet with them for lunch every Thursday at a local restaurant. It started as a way to get more involved in the community there but I have met a lot of really nice people and look forward to it every week. Part of being a member is having to find a speaker to come speak to us during lunch, usually only once a year. (I have noticed most people end up being twice a year, so I'm pretty sure they are taking it easy on me since I don't really know anyone in town!). Last year, one of my employees was head of the Relay for Life, so I got her to come talk about how much money they raised and what RfL is all about. This year, since my speaker was scheduled for April, I thought it would be a great idea to bring someone in to educated us more on what Autism really is and how they help. After some research, I found a not-for-profit company based in MS called TEAAM (Together Enhancing Autism Awareness in Mississippi). I got in touch with the founder, Dr Yeager, and he agreed to come talk to us.
I just thought I knew what Autism was but I now have a whole new respect for the Autistic person and their family. One thing that TEAAM does is host a summer camp for autistic children. They have children come from all over the US and volunteers from all over the world. It is the only camp of its kind in the COUNTRY. They are truly amazing people and I am just in awe of everything they are doing to help people with autism and their families just live a normal life.
Fun Fact: The first person ever diagnosed with Autism if from and still lives in Forest, MS. He is 80 years old and plays golf every day! He said they have to go get him when it starts storming because he won't stop playing! At 80 people!!!! Wow!

One thing that really shocked me to hear and the real reason I am writing this post is to inform you how national charities really give back! Everyone has heard of Autism Speaks, a national campaign that raises money for autism research and funding for families. Last year, the state of MS raised $190,000 dollars for Autism speaks. THATS ALMOST $200,000 FOLKS! Guess how much Autism Speaks gave back to organizations in the state of MS? $1000! Thats it! TEAAM was the only organization in the state of MS to receive any funding from Autism Speaks and they got a whopping $1000. I was shocked and pretty sure my jaw hit the floor. I have now decided that if I chose to give, you better believe that I will know where my money goes. If I truly want to help my neighbor, I'm going to give to a local charity that will help the community around me. Sure, if a tragedy happens, I am looking at the big picture, but if MS or TN has a crisis and needs something that I feel like I can give, I am going to find a way to make it happen locally.

TEAAM (Autism)
GoLucyGo (LeBonheur)
St Jude (Memphis)
Blair E Batson (MS Children's Hospital)
MS Blood Services

Thanks for listening and I hope you have a wonderful day!

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