I accidentally came across Fightback for Autism while standing in the middle of a crowded Toys R Us the week after Thanksgiving. Toy stores stress me out. Something about the too bright colors and inanimate objects springing to life when you walk by. This day was no different. I had been on the hunt for a train or Lego table. It was going to be the big Christmas reveal. It was going to be my mother-of-the-year present that would bridge the gap between Charlie’s needs and the twins wants. Finally an activity that they could all do together! Let us join hands and listen to “Imagine” and build Lego castles.
Here’s the wrench in my dreams: all the tables that Toys R Us had to offer (and they had plenty) were too low for Charlie to reach in his wheelchair. He’d have to bend sideways like a deflating snowman on the front lawn just to reach and that’s exactly what we were trying to get him to STOP doing. So I whipped out my phone and let Google guide me. I laid out all my requirements: sturdy, tall enough, able to convert from Lego table to regular play table, rim around the edge, storage, and closed my eyes, made a wish and hit “search.” And found Fightback for Autism.
Yes, they had the perfect table. They offered it in two finishes and two heights. They sent two extra Lego boards just because. I ordered it standing right then, despite being in enemy territory. And then an hour later I panicked. What if it was impossible to put together or what if it didn’t arrive in time? Could I still get the motherhood prize if I handed the kids an IOU? So I called the help line and they patched me through to the person responsible for shipping the tables and she talked to me for twenty minutes, just because. She reassured me it would get there in plenty of time. She actually put me on hold to print out the order and pull the label and get it ready to go out THAT DAY. And then we talked. She wanted to know about Charlie. She genuinely interested. This wasn’t just customer service, it was person-to-person connection. She had a heart for what she did.
The table was perfect. This kids love it. Charlie can use it in his wheelchair and stander and it forces him to keep his head up while he plays. Jury’s still out on the mother-of-the-year award, but I’m campaigning hard.
But the table is on one part of the story. It’s the organization that wins me over. They are a non profit and they aim to “help families fight for FULL ACCESS to medical and therapy services including adequate insurance reimbursement for services. Our mission is dedicated to fighting for Full Access to Medical & Therapy Services, as well as developing & supporting home based educational programs to teach & guide parents on how to carry out therapy services at home at 6- 7 days a week.” As someone whose fought the good fight with insurance and lost more than I’ve won, this is the kind of mission I can get behind. One of their long term goals is to “build and open a full service AUTISM DIAGNOSTIC CENTER, similar to the medical model of the Mayo Clinic.” They are in it for the long haul. They want to FIGHTBACK against the tide of insurance denials and insufficient care that children and adults with autism often receive.
These people have heart and core values. If I can both help them and benefit from it through our new activity table, then that actually is the gift that keeps on giving. If you know of anyone with special needs I encourage you to check out their website. They sell medical equipment as well as toys and you know that the money will be well spent. The special needs community is…a special one. We have to help each other help the ones we love.