At the tender age of 2, our son, Kasten Joshua Rich (affectionately known as Joshua), was diagnosed with autism Spectrum Disorder. Like many families, we did not know what to expect and the grieving process ensued. For 3 days, my husband and I cried as we tried to process the diagnosis. On that 3rd day, my husband said, “Joshua is a gift, it’s time to roll up our sleeves and go to work for him!” From that moment on, despite our financial limitations, we advocated for Joshua and made sure that he had every resource necessary moving forward.
From speech and occupational therapy to applied behavioral analysis (ABA), the diagnosis took a major toll on our family, both mentally and financially, but love triumphed. When you don’t understand why you can’t hold your child or how they will make friends at school, you learn to look at life through new lenses. For us, that meant seeing hope and opportunity at every corner and doing everything we could to ensure that our son had a fighting chance. We welcomed our baby girl, just a few short years after Joshua’s diagnosis and the two of them have taught my husband and I more about resilience, love and compassion than we could have ever imagined.
As we’ve remained active in the autism community, we recognize the need for families to have increased support and access to activities that are inclusive and engaging. This, coupled with our growing desire to do more, became the inspiration for “Joshua’s Gift”.