Justin's Ramblings         Natalie Rae Riggs         Aaron Bentley



posted on Friday, January 31, 2014 in Human Intrest

    I like to consider myself a fan.  Well, yes a fan of music, but deeper than that.  A fan of people.  A fan of experiences.  A fan of shared experiences that last a lifetime.  What will follow is an account of one memorable day, an experience shared by several of the scenes young up-and-coming artists, and how this one December day changed their, our lives, forever.  This is by no means a toot our own horn, or pat us on the back type piece, but more of a glimpse into an often misunderstood world, and the brilliance that can be found in small victories when we take the time to put ourselves aside for a moment, and open our hearts.

"Being around the Hope Center angels has touched my heart in such a warm and inspirational way that my life will never be the same.  I love the smiles on their faces and the way they light up when we all communicate through music." -Aubrey Lynn England

    Well you might be asking what the Hope Center 4 Autism is.  Here is a brief explanation of what they do there. 

-The Hope Center for Autism is a 501 (c)(3) non-profit.  We provide Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) to children with autism.  We do not have set programs in place, we build programs to meet the needs of each child.  We take into consideration that there is no one single program that will fit all children on the autism spectrum and that each child with autism has their own set of strengths and deficits.  ABA therapy is done in a one to one setting, which is what the CDC and the Attorney General recommends.  ABA is the only therapy that has a proven success rate.

The cost for a family to provide just the basic ABA therapy for one child is $60,000 or greater per year.  In many instances at the Hope Center, our current clients have two children with autism in the family and one of our families has four children on the spectrum.  For families unable to afford therapy, we provide parent training, parent support groups, and parent coaching.  We believe that in order for a client to be successful and functional in all environments, families must be involved and learn to parent in an ABA lifestyle.  We encourage this and we expect this from the families enrolled in our services.  There is not enough therapy for the demand of families living with autism in Fort Worth.  We provide a different choice than what other centers offer.  We work to change the family dealing with autism, not just the child.

Therapy cost in Tarrant County ranges between $90 to $120 per hour.  The Hope Center charges $55 per hour.  Most clients need 10 or more hours per week.  This is like having another house payment for most folks.  It is hard enough to know your child has a life time of autism ahead of them, let alone know you cannot provide them with the life changing therapy.  Many young adults who have had good ABA therapy now lead fully functional lives.  Everyone wants that for their children.  Everyone wants for them to just have a chance to be educating to their learning style and a chance to be all they were meant to be.  Without the much needed therapy, that chance is very low.

We work very hard to keep our costs down so that everyone gets some support.  The Hope Center has been self-sustained for 7 years.  Due to budget cuts and decrease of insurance payment, we are now looking for new ways to keep our therapy costs down and still continue to provide the high quality service the Hope Center administers to families with children on the spectrum.  

Parents come to us with no direction and no hope.  They have all been hurt by their families who think they are just not parenting strict enough.  Their friends have all deserted them and they feel isolated and alone.  We offer hope to them in many areas.  We teach the child how to learn to their learning style.  We teach the parent how to understand the function of their child’s behavior.  We understand what is happening in their homes and at school.  Simply put, we give them hope.  

We believe things can change for families dealing with autism.- Rene Sanders

      What transpired that day was truly an eye opening event.  We went simply thinking we were going to share in a Christmas celebration, bringing a few gifts of games and songs to help brighten a few children's day, and in return, we gained more than we could have ever imagined.

    Ryan signs the guitar

    "The Hope Center 4 Autism in Fort Worth is  a magical place with love busting at it's seams. These kiddos are simply special little angels from heaven who need a little extra TLC and have found a safe haven at the Hope Center 4 Autism.  Furthermore, it was evident that day that the amazing staff are their guardian angels. It was an honor to witness the pure bliss the music brought to them in a world that is a sometimes scary place for them but thanks to the Hope Center 4 Autism the future looks a whole lot brighter. It is extremely imperative we support such centers like the Hope Center 4 Autism and raise awareness on ABA therapy, support funding as I was shocked to find out the government does not cover such programs. This is therapy that can make a difference between a kiddo feeling connected with the world or feeling prisoner in his own body. Imagine being a parent and knowing how to help your child and not being able to afford such therapy- we have to support the solution, the cure- we have to support the Hope Center 4 Autism. They are making the difference daily in these miracles lives."-Stephanie Sara Schaefer

hope center party

     "It was an honor to see the kids light up when we went to play for them.  As a musician you create music to evoke emotion in people and those kids felt every note, every beat and some even had some dance moves I wish I could rock!"- Ryan Matter

    While these artists may not be the A-list ones you hear about on a daily basis, the names are not what is important, it's the mesage and dedication. This was not a PR campaign for them, there were no cameras following them around, this was on their time, and all were more than happy to say yes to attending as quickly as they were asked.

hope center group

     Certain events and environments and experiences help remind you how petty many of our own inconveniences really are.  They help put your life back to center, and re-evaluate the priorities of our lives that are often placed on the back burner.  That day was one of those moments.  A moment that will forever be etched in my mind.  Seeing the impact and joy of spirit brought to those wonderful, incredible children at the Hope Center 4 Autism melted my heart.  I am forever changed.  Thank you to the staff for inviting us into your world, if only for a brief moment, and thank you to those where shared their talent and abilities.  Moments like these make the journey down life's road worth it.  A journey that can only be found once you leave the pavement, and travel down those Texas Red Dirt Roads.

To find out more about the Hope Center for Autism and how you can help: Click Here


Aaron Bentley