Archer family continues outreach to families with autistic children
Local autism activist Melissa Archer is looking forward to the Second Annual Tee for Technology on Sunday, Sept. 15, at Wolf Creek Golf Club in Adrian. “I’m excited about the whole thing,” she said. “We still need teams. We still need sponsors.”For many families with children on the autism spectrum, language communication is the greatest barrier. If a child is not verbal, often family and educators underestimate how much a child is absorbing academically and socially.The Archer family of Adrian understands the frustration families have with communication, having lived the struggle with their daughter Jasmynn, 11. “I understand her but no one else does,” Archer says of Jasmynn. “I’m getting her to be interactive.”After an iPad opened up new ways of communication with Jasmynn, the family wanted to share their breakthrough with other families. Their outreach started with purchasing and giving away four iPads to families with autistic children.With the success and joy the iPads gave the families, the Archers decided to raise money to give away even more iPads, hosting a Tee for Technology golf outing last September. The golf outing allowed the Archers to give even more iPads to families in need, thanks to the generosity of the community.By the end of 2012, 14 iPads were in use by 18 individuals, opening up a new way for families to communicate with their children on the autism spectrum. Of the 18 new iPad users, only two were verbal. Despite the lack of verbal communication, Jasmynn was able to show the recipients all the great things they could do with the iPad.Jasmynn’s iPads Cost Money became an official non-profit with a 501c3 designation in July. The 2013 goal of the family is to double the number iPads donated by Jassmyn’s iPads Cost Money to families in Lenawee and Washtenaw counties. Recent numbers of children diagnosed on the autism spectrum rose in 2012 to one in 50 from one in 88 children in 2008, according to a report from the United States Center for Disease Control released in July.The numbers reported for boys on the spectrum are now one in 33. Archer hopes there will continue to be an equal rise in autism research and awareness. Her family does its best to keep positive information about Jasmynn and autism available to all those interested through a Facebook page for Jasmynn’s iPads Cost Money that features breakthroughs with autism as well as providing updates about the Tee for Technology outing and having an application.There are two tee times on Sunday, Sept. 15, 9 a.m. and 2 p.m. Spots at the 2 p.m. tee time are filling up quickly.“Many of my iPad recipients are bringing their families,” Archer said about the popularity of the later time. “We’re getting the word out. A lot of nice people in the community are helping.”A teacher, Archer is at home with Jasmynn for half of every school day, and spends a great deal of time working with Jasmynn and continually exposing her daughter to a variety of activities as well as helping guide Jasmynn’s academics.Besides the Tee for Technology fundraiser and keeping her Facebook page updated, Archer has little time for much advocacy work. She does meet with families to share and talk about the experiences of living with a child on the spectrum.“I’m also networking with mothers and families,” she said of the informal work. “It just seems to be happening.”Archer is surprised and pleased at how much Jasmynn has embodied autism in a positive fashion for people in Lenawee and Washtenaw counties. “Everybody knows the kid,” Archer said.