Because her husband Norman is on dialysis as he waits for a kidney, pain often prevents him from working in his Wal Mart job. With three children and her business manager position at the the only full-time job, Georgi Austin had been a little concerned about buying Christmas presents for their family this season.
She wanted to get a Wii for her youngest child, 11-year-old Norman Jr., who is on the autism spectrum. The interactive game console would get him up and moving, and moving in a safe location, she said, not in the front yard near the road. And she wanted to buy presents for her other two children, Christopher and Hillary, as well.
She got a present herself that’s made a big difference for her family: a $500 gift card from the My Autism Spectrum Disorder Foundation. The Austins were one of 11 families in the Athens area who received the gift cards, said Tamila Burt.
"The foundation really helped us out," said Georgi. "We really appreciate it."
Burt, a behavior intervention expert who contracts with and other school districts, volunteers with FACES (Families of Austism Aspergers Care Education and Support), a non-profit based in Walton County. FACES holds a summer camp for autistic children, Burt said, and Norman was among the 13 children from Clarke County who attended last summer, courtesy of the My Autism Spectrum Disorder Foundation.
In November, foundation officials contacted Burt. They said they recognize that parents of autisitc children spend lots of money on special programs, products ant therapies, and they worried that these parents might be short on money during the holidays.
"They didn't want to have someone else buy presents for these children," said Burt. "They wanted to empower the parents and give them some control in their lives. And the pleasure of buying presents."