SEATTLE – Traci Schneider says something didn’t seem right.
“It was our first child. I got around with my girlfriends that had babies the same age, he wasn’t doing what my friends were doing, and he wouldn’t connect,” she said about the time in Wisconsin when her son Ben was a little over a year old.
Her husband John was an executive with the Green Bay Packers at the time.
“He was verbal, but not a communicator, at first we thought it was awesome because he was memorizing books and the alphabet and movies, and then the social part of it started coming through,” said John, now General Manager of the Seattle Seahawks.
Their pediatrician suggested parenting classes, according to the Schneiders, missing the signs that Ben had autism.
“We didn’t know where to go, what else to do,” said Traci.
Almost two years went by until a Packers team psychologist made a referral, according to Traci. Doctors administered expensive therapy that cost thousands of dollars and hours of time.
“We didn’t take family vacations, buy a car, redo the kitchen, so we could pay for his care,” said Traci. “We could have started therapy that much earlier. We saw immediate changes in him.”
They says Ben is now healthy and happy. The experience changed their lives and their perspective on family. That’s why they started “Ben’s Fund” in conjunction with Families for Effective Autism Treatment, to raise money and issue grants to families for autism counseling and care.
Two different events helped raise over $500,000 and a current Seahawks auction, timed for National Autism Awareness month, is doing the same.
Traci wanted to offer a little bit help. “Hang onto the hope that things will get better,” she said.
For more on Ben’s Fund click here.