“Set a positive vision, identify solutions and bring others along”

Posted by Elizabeth Sopher on

“Set a positive vision, identify solutions and bring others along” – words to live by from Nancy - QuickZip customer, educator,  leader in the autism community, and mom of a college sophomore and a son with autism.

Nancy has turned challenges into action throughout her life:  After teaching in Japan and Russia and working in administration early in her career, she turned her talents toward autism.  When her son needed a school, she helped found and then direct it.  Firefly School was the first of its kind in Colorado to offer comprehensive treatment focused on therapy through applied behavior analysis, a scientifically validated approach based in positive reinforcement, and similar to the approach used by many different kinds of learners to learn many different skills. That therapy, now also practiced in his public school, has paid off for many individuals, including Austin, who, at 18, is having his best year yet.  He attends a local high school, works with the Forest Service planting trees, is tall and athletic, and loves to hike.  He climbs 14,000-foot peaks (affectionately known in Colorado as 14ers); covered over 700 miles of trail last summer  – 15 miles a day with a team of dedicated caregivers, and skis at Winter Park with the National Sports Center for the Disabled.  Nancy notes that the common factor in the success of these activities for Austin is a group of volunteers, awesome people in the world, who believe that the bottom line is yes;  that there is always a way.  

Raising children is all-consuming for most of us; and with Austin’s special needs, Nancy manages a team of caregivers, has become expert in the financing and funding of various components of treatment and care, and is always tethered by phone to solve an issue from afar. Nancy shared that dealing with these overwhelming challenges has been isolating at times, but it has also forced her to create support systems that were not readily available and to understand that it could be done. This realization gives her the hope and the confidence for her next mission: addressing the needs young adults with autism. She has the positive vision, a solution to create a measure of independence for Austin and his contemporaries (who likely prefer not to live with Mom), and is getting ready to bring others along with her.

Here are a few expert tips from Nancy:

Favorite Organizations:

  • Easter Seals - Rocky Mountain Village Autism Camp Week.-  “Believe me, this is a huge help.  In my son's case, there was no place else for him to go for camp.  His behaviors were too significant. And camp is one place where a lot of our kids shine, and it gives parents a few days of respite.  Easter Seals makes it affordable and gives scholarships.  It's an inclusive place.”
  • Firefly Autism – A comprehensive treatment center that Nancy helped found, and then directed for seven years – serving individuals with autism including the ones with the most challenging behaviors. Mission:  transforming the lives of children with autism, empowering their families and collaborating with their communities
  • Joshua School – A nationally-recognized school for individuals with autism spectrum disorders. Mission:   to help students attain the highest quality of life in home, school, and community settings.  (Serving students from 2.5 to 18 years of age)

 Favorite Products and Services:

  • Respite Care, Inc., a nonprofit organization in Fort Collins that provides child care for children up to 21 years old with developmental disabilities.  They have been a godsend to me as Austin would otherwise have no place to go after school while I worked.  Like many children with autism, he has to have constant supervision, even at 18.
  • The Access Pass, which allows Austin (and his companions) to hike many miles in Rocky Mt. National Park and other parks.   The Access Pass is a free, lifetime pass available to United States citizens or permanent residents, regardless of age, that have a permanent disability which  can be used at over 2000 Federal recreation sites across the nation, including National Parks, National Wildlife Refuges, and many National Forest lands. The Access Pass admits the Pass owner and any passengers traveling with him/her in a non-commercial vehicle at per-vehicle fee areas or the Pass owner and three additional adults where per-person fees are charged.
  • QuickZip Sheets: I change sheets 2-3 times a week, a common occurrence when taking care of those with autism and other disabilities. It was so hard to get the sheets on the mattress, and Austin couldn’t help out.  I had to get someone to help me when I was having back trouble.   For a while I put the mattress on the floor to make it easier  QuickZip was an immediate help, a wonderful and practical solution! 

QuickZip will be donating a percentage of our April sales to organizations that help individuals and families affected by Autism.

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