Support Charlie’s Gift Center for Autism and Related Disorders


By the time he was three, Jason’s mom Susan knew to give him special attention when a thunderstorm approached. Screaming uncontrollably, covering his ears, hiding in the back of his closet were all part of Jason’s “normal” reaction to hearing the first boom of thunder. But what she didn’t realize was that Jason’s fear was part of a broader diagnosis.

After talking to other moms about Jason’s fear, Susan decided it was time to raise his symptoms with his pediatrician. Further tests diagnosed Jason on the autism spectrum along with an anxiety disorder.

For Jason’s mom, the diagnosis helped put the pieces of the puzzle together…… his difficulty with communication, his meltdowns when it was time to end an activity, his fear of thunder, and his anxiety when around other people…..were all part of the bigger picture called autism spectrum disorder (ASD).

There are two things that many recognize about Autism and related disorders – that no two children with autism are alike and that early intervention can lead to significant progress. What many don’t realize is that studies have shown nearly 70% of children diagnosed with ASD have also been diagnosed with a secondary disorder.  The most common diagnosis is one related to anxiety. These additional disorders can be extremely debilitating for these children and affect the entire family.

As Jason grew and attended school, his disorders required special attention by school psychologists, teachers and peers.  Jason’s entire family took an active role in helping him by participating in workshops and meeting with his therapists. His disorders affected nearly every social interaction and hindered his ability to make friends.

“Many parents overlook anxiety symptoms or don’t initially think they are a big deal,” says Dr. Aimee M. Koerner-Frank, PsyD, therapist at Charlie’s Gift. “But anxiety can be part of a bigger picture that should not be overlooked and most important, can be treated!”

One of the most effective treatments for anxiety is cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT). CBT is an evidence-based therapeutic approach to anxiety and mood disorders. It teaches children and adults that our thoughts trigger our feelings and behaviors. CBT helps people to become aware of thoughts, feelings and behaviors and teaches new coping skills and ways to overcome anxiety.

Therapists at Charlie’s Gift treat children like Jason every week. Teaching them coping mechanisms to overcome their fears, helping them understand they are not weak or different, and meeting with parents and siblings are all part of the holistic treatment provided by the staff.

Patience. Persistence. These are the essential qualities needed to help treat children affected by ASD and related anxiety disorders. And they are the qualities needed from friends like you — your patience as we invest in long-term solutions and your persistence in supporting this life-changing work.

It is your continued support that makes it possible for children and their families to progress on this journey — to improve, even overcome, the symptoms associated with ASD.

Will you consider making an investment in Charlie’s Gift today? You can do that online at I Support Charlie’s Gift.