Meet Parker & Bennett.
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Parker Family photo

“Life is messy and unpredictable, things will always go wrong and there will sometimes be heartache. How we handle these situations when they are thrust upon us becomes the defining moments in our life.” – Jason Mendenhall
When Parker was born, his parents, Jason and Amaya, saw a beautiful, typically developing child.  He was hitting all his milestones, crawling, walking and running by a year old.  But when Parker didn’t start speaking and didn’t respond when his parents called his name, Jason and Amaya became concerned.

As is common in the beginning of many autism stories, the pediatrician told Parker’s parents not to worry.  The doctor explained that all children develop differently and that she was not concerned about his development.  Jason and Amaya left the appointment full of hope, but in their hearts, were not convinced that the doctor was right.

“I remember very distinctly rocking Parker to sleep that night. His little body cradled in my arms slowly drifting off as I sobbed uncontrollably. His little hand reaching up to touch my face and feel my scruff before shutting his eyes and sighing. I held him for another hour still crying, praying to God to make it not so. I couldn’t figure out where I went wrong, everything was falling apart. I was going to coach his little league team, teach him to drive, dance with my wife at his wedding…” – Jason, Parker & Bennett’s Dad

When Parker was still not talking a few months later, his parents decided to have him evaluated by an autism specialist.  Jason and Amaya were comforted knowing that Parker’s doctor was not overly concerned about autism, but they wanted to check all the boxes.

Then the hammer dropped.

After spending 35 minutes with Parker, the evaluators came out and told his parents that they suspected he had autism.

 

“We had just clawed our way out of an endless abyss of despair only to be kicked in the gut and sent sprawling back into it. Nothing is more devastating in this life than being told that your child, who you know with all your heart is perfect in every way, is anything less than that.” –Jason, Parker & Bennett’s Dad

Having this diagnosis was devastating, but it didn’t take Jason and Amaya long to realize that they were Parker’s best advocates.  They knew that he needed therapy to help him progress and learn, but the therapies were restrictively expensive.  Nevertheless, they started parker in several different therapies.

 

“We agreed that we could always earn more money later, but there are only so many truly pivotal years in a child's development for therapies to be effective. So we chose to put ourselves in debt... a lot of debt.  We slowly watched as insurance premiums went up, out of pocket deductibles increased, and our credit card debt became overwhelming as we tried to keep up with the on-going costs of Speech, OT and ABA.” –Amaya, Parker and Bennett’s Mom
As Parker began to progress, the family felt like they were now on the right track.  They began to navigate their new normal.  Just as they began to feel peace with the path they were on...

Parker’s younger brother Bennett was also diagnosed with autism.

“My worst nightmare had come true. Not the possibility of potentially having multiple children needing therapy or having delays, but going through the darkness and despair we had recently emerged from with our first child.” – Jason, Parker & Bennett’s Dad

Bennett’s parents then doubled their efforts working with both children.  They also doubled their expenses.  The family could not continue down this financial path forever.  They began to consider drastic measures such as selling their home or stopping all therapies.

 

“There was not a single day that went by that we didn't think about how we could keep the boys in therapy and still survive financially... until the day Imagine A Way told us they were sponsoring our children. That was the day we finally felt like we could breathe again. There is no worse feeling in the world than feeling helpless when it comes to your child, and with the help of Imagine A Way, we don't feel that way anymore.  They saved us from having to make the hardest decision- to choose between the well-being of our children and financial stability. It's a choice I never wanted to have to make, and I am forever grateful to Imagine A Way for sparing me that.” – Amaya, Parker & Bennett’s Mom
Today, with Imagine A Way’s help, Parker and Bennett are receiving the therapy they need to thrive.  Without assistance, this therapy would cost the family over $100,000 every year.  Imagine A Way is honored to be able to help these boys and their family.  Together we will help them reach their full potential.

 

Parker & Father photoParker photoParker Family photo

Bennett photoBennett on frog photoBennett photo

Parker & Bennett's Family photo

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