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Boy with autism will soon lose his therapy

Editor’s note: Light One Candle is an annual series sponsored by the Mail Tribune that focuses on an individual, group or organization that could use a helping hand during the holiday season. Once that need is filled, donations may be distributed to others in need.

This month is the last of occupational therapy for a 12-year-old boy who experiences autism. His family, who lost their home in the Almeda fire, wishes for financial assistance to build on his progress.

The boy’s disability kept him from attending school for most of his life until his family’s 2019 move to Phoenix, where the school district welcomed them. Previously, the boy stayed home with his mother, who provided constant support. Struggling to regulate his physical functions, the boy could not even ride a school bus, said Amber Robles, chief executive office of Living Opportunities in Medford.

When the boy’s family home burned in the Almeda fire, he also lost a vital connection to instructors, peers and community services. The family has since resided in a small travel trailer at Jackson County’s Southern Oregon RV Park.

The most tremendous growth in the boy’s life to date has come through his occupational therapy, said Robles. He now can ride the bus and in a car. He attends school a few hours a week without his mother’s presence.

Paid with a short-term grant, the treatment brought the boy much success, and gave his parents hope for their son’s future. But funding for his therapy ends this month, and his parents don’t have the means to continue their son’s work with his trusted therapist. His caseworkers with Bridging Communities advocate for this therapy as the boy’s route to inclusion in the larger community.

Bridging Communities is a family-led initiative responsive to the needs of Southern Oregon families whose children experience intellectual and developmental disabilities. It operates under Living Opportunities’ umbrella.

To help, call Living Opportunities at 541-772-1503.

Follow this year’s Light One Candle stories at mailtribune.com/news/light-one-candle/. See Tuesday’s e-edition for the story of a mother and four children living in precarious conditions since the father drowned.