The Mission of the Children’s Tomorrow Foundation is to provide support for innovative therapeutic programs that help children with Asperger’s syndrome and high-functioning autism (AS/HFA) reach their full potential.
How did we evolve?
The idea of the Children’s Tomorrow Foundation has had a long journey since the early 2000′s when its purpose was not yet defined but the desire to help children was there. It wasn’t until the founder of the Children’s Tomorrow Foundation, Dr. Colleen Olsberg, received a diagnosis of Asperger’s Syndrome for her youngest daughter that the Foundation’s mission became targeted at the mysterious disorder.
Dr. Olsberg realized the importance of innovative therapies for AS/HFA children after witnessing the remarkable difference that ballroom dance had on her daughter with AS/HFA. Her daughter’s dramatic life transformation started on the ballroom floor, two years after the AS/HFA diagnosis, and continues today. Her daughter continues to show Dr. Olsberg that alternative therapies can make a big difference in the quality of life for an AS/HFA child.
What is an “innovative therapeutic program”? And why does the Children’s Tomorrow Foundation only support these programs?
The Children’s Tomorrow Foundation recognizes that there are many charitable organizations that only support programs that provide a large body of scientific evidence demonstrating that their programs are effective in improving the quality of life for AS/HFA children. The level of research required to show this level of certainty can be a burden for programs that are innovative yet in “their infancy”. For this reason, the Children’s Tomorrow Foundation is interested in funding programs that are creative and have the potential to improve the social functioning and physical performance of AS/HFA children without requiring years of extensive and expensive research. This allows new programs to be delivered to AS/HFA children quicker which means the potential benefits to AS/HFA children happen sooner.
Why will the innovative therapeutic programs only be aimed at children on the high-functioning end of the spectrum? Aren’t lower-functioning children in need of more help?
Most people are inclined to agree with the fact that lower functioning ASD children are in need of extensive support services. However, when the therapeutic focus on these children precludes higher functioning AS/HFA children from receiving adequate therapeutic support, the higher functioning AS/HFA children struggle to keep up with their non-AS/HFA peers. Their quality of life declines. It is easy to let higher functioning children “slip through the cracks” and drop them alone into the real world to find employment and housing, where their prospects of success are not good. The Children’s Tomorrow Foundation seeks to provide the higher functioning AS/HFA children with therapeutic programs that support growth and development in all aspects of their lives.
Dr. Colleen Olsberg began her career in children’s health at the United States Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA) where she has been since 1994. She has run multiple national children’s health projects, including the Toxicity and Exposure Assessment for Children’s Health (TEACH) project at the EPA, which received over a million dollars from U.S. EPA Office of Children’s Health Protection in funding over the course of 12 years and the national Joseph Seifer award for excellence in human health risk assessment. She is also the coauthor of the curriculum to teach ballroom dance to AS/HFA children “Dance Dynamics: Teaching Asperger’s Children to Ballroom Dance.”