Autism Rescue Angels
Autism Rescue Angels Coming to Roundtopolis™
Autism Rescue Angels, a Houston-area non-profit organization that exists to help families cover the costs of medical and educational services for loved ones with autism spectrum disorder, is expanding to Fayette and Austin counties.
“Autism is a lifelong disability,” said Dr. Lisa Graham-Garza, president and co-founder. “While it’s a medical issue that can be addressed with a host of interventions such as physical, occupational, speech and behavioral therapies, the cost of treatment is not covered by most insurance. Families find themselves overwhelmed by the expense.”
Graham-Garza, who is the mother of a son with autism and a son with learning differences, came face to face with the urgent need for additional funding as she sat in therapy waiting rooms around Houston with other parents of special needs children.
“Our family was able to afford high-quality care for our sons, but so many families were struggling to provide baseline services,” said Graham-Garza. “The stress takes a toll on so many aspects of family life.”
Instead of backing away from the awkward conversations regarding cost, Graham-Garza embraced them and decided to do something. In 2014, she, along with Penny Khuri, co-founded Autism Rescue Angels based in Katy to help bridge the funding gap in Fort Bend, Montgomery and Harris counties.
“We focus on providing funding to families once they have determined an appropriate course of treatment for their loved one,” said Graham-Garza. “Most of our board members are special needs parents and while we’re willing to share our experiences, as an organization we aren’t in the business of telling families what they should or shouldn’t do.”
Currently, one in 38 children are now being diagnosed with autism. Five years ago, the diagnostic rate was one in 59 children.
“At some point, there will be more people with autism than people without autism,” Graham-Garza said. “This is an issue that affects all of us.”
Texas ranks 47th in availability of public services for autism. As an illustration of what this means for families, Graham-Garza shared her experience. Her youngest son was diagnosed with autism in 2004. At that time, she put his name on the waiting list for education related services in Fort Bend County. There were 8,000 children ahead of him. Fifteen years later, there are still 8,000 children ahead of him.
Lack of widespread public services combined with the growing, urgent need is prompting Autism Rescue Angels’ immediate expansion into Austin and Fayette counties.
“Families are finding us,” Graham-Garza said. “No one is providing assistance in the rural counties between Houston and Austin, so we’re stepping into that gap.”
Ideally, one day there will be an Autism Rescue Angels chapter in every county in every state in the country poised to meet the ever-growing, ever-changing needs of families contending with autism.
“We can’t ever raise enough money or do enough good,” Graham-Garza said. “Our efforts will continue forever because autism is forever.”
To apply for assistance, to make a donation or for more information contact:
Autism Rescue Angels
27 Hollingers Island
Katy, TX 77450