By Cindy Prescott (Parent and Amplify Life Staff)
Cindy Prescott, Mom to Michael and Amplify Life Office Administrator
Michael is 24 and an Amplify Life-aholic! He has been attending Amplify Life programs for nine years. As a mother of a special needs child with a severe language disability, witnessing that child walk into a program center with a huge smile and proclaim “Hi guys, I’m here!” makes your heart smile.
Michael was diagnosed with Autism at 2½ and in an instant life changed. Once fears of an unknown future began to subside, we began aggressive speech and occupational therapy. With early intervention school starting at age 3½ and therapy sessions 3-4 times a week there wasn’t time for much else in our lives. My husband and I spent eight years working opposite shifts on our jobs so one of us was always available to get Michael to his sessions.
We moved to Reno when Michael was ten. I heard from several mothers about Camp Lotsafun. However, I quickly set it aside. There was NO way my son was going to a weeklong overnight wilderness camp with a bunch of strangers. It just wasn’t happening! Eventually, I realized that Michael needed opportunities for socialization. He needed to learn skills outside of what our family could provide. I finally inquired about camp. Still, I was afraid. Who else but me could understand Michael’s garbled words? His wants and needs? Who knew him better than me? After many phone calls with Amplify Life, the day arrived and Michael was going to camp! And he did, but not without his father and me camping a few miles down the road in our camper in the event the Amplify Life staff needed me for help. Yet, no phone call ever came. The following camp, I did the same thing. No phone calls that time either.
When Michael got off the bus from the first camp, he was a young man full of excitement and energy! A teenager who had the time of his life, made crafts, sat around a real campfire and sang songs, danced, took part in the talent contest, swam, and made friends. He knew their names and he was self-confident. This was a new Michael. For the next 2 hours, he excitedly shared his week with us. It was one of the happiest and proudest moments of my life. I realized my fears had been holding Michael back instead of letting him grow and experience things on his own as a typical child does. This was possible because Amplify Life offered a unique environment for Michael and his peers. Michael is now a “camp pro”.
Amplify Life’s addition of social programs have given Michael regular social time with his friends, with activities that challenge him. While Michael is attending programs, my husband and I have a few hours to ourselves for dinner, a movie, or to visit with friends. We recharge our batteries. This is a rare treat.
As both parent and employee, I bring a unique perspective. That of a mother with fears, which
I share with the caregivers of new campers. I testify how Michael has blossomed because of his connection with Amplify Life. As an employee, I could not be more proud of the work we do at this amazing organization. It is life changing. Amplify Life opened up a new world for our entire family, not just Michael. We have all grown and benefit from this outstanding organization.