By Dave Sevick
Fifteen years. It’s a span of time that, for some, feels like a split second. Others will swear it feels like an eternity---an ocean of time during which monumental changes can take place. At Firefly Autism, we see it both ways.
This year will mark Firefly’s fifteenth birthday and although fifteen years is like the blink of any eye for those of us in the ’40-and-over’ club, those years have been filled with what seems like a lifetime of advancements, achievements, and breakthroughs. During that time, we’ve witnessed a revolution of sorts, changing the way our world operates---and not just within the realm of technology. Those fifteen years have been a game-changer in the way autism is diagnosed and treated. Compared to what was known about autism in 2003, we are lightyears ahead of where we were back then. But here’s the kicker: at the same time, we’re still barely scratching the surface.
The study of autism was a late bloomer compared to other disorders and causes we frequently hear about in the news. Until the late 80s, the word ‘autism’ was barely in our vocabulary. We knew so little about this mysterious disorder, and it took another ten years before we took it seriously enough to provide even a pittance or funding for research and treatment. Sadly, even with the incredible strides we’ve made over the past two decades, autism spectrum disorder (ASD) remains the most under-funded of all developmental disorders. I find that ironic since it is one of the fastest growing of all developmental disorders and every day, the number of people whose lives are directly impacted by ASD increases dramatically. We absolutely must do whatever we can to ensure that the funding for ASD better parallels its rate of growth.
As Colorado’s leader in the treatment of autism, Firefly has done well in helping to bring autism into mainstream conversations, no longer a topic to be avoided because it’s uncomfortable, previously only discussed in private---and even then, only using whispered voices in darkened rooms. Much of that progress is due to one signature event dedicated to the bright spirit of the thousands of children and families whose lives have been transformed over these past fifteen years. On this special night, we raise awareness, we raise spirits, and, of course, we raise funds. But it’s different than any other fundraising gala you’ll ever experience. We do it with laughter.