Oh my, the room looks gorgeous. Josh Hubner completed his Eagle Scout project with such professionalism and timeliness.

I have to say thank you, and wow!

You see, I've had this hope, a dream for both adults and children, with special needs.

The seeds for this effort were planted in my heart in 1984, in North Carolina.

I had met a mom with an 8-year-old daughter with a unique disability. During the hot humid summers of Charlotte, we both took our children to the swimming pool by our townhomes.

The mom had great concern, over what her 8-year-old would do in the swimming pool. I told her not to worry.

The mom asked what my daughter Kelsey's disability was. When I answered, CP, etc, the mom mentioned how they didn't know what her daughter had.

I'm always willing to talk, so I did.

This sweet mom whispered to me, “It’s either mental illness, schizophrenia, or some other emotional problem. I wish my daughter’s disability was easier to understand.”

My heart went out to the mom, and still does.

It’s been 30 years since that experience in Charlotte with a mom and her daughter at the swimming pool.

At the time, they knew very little about what we now identify as autism. For years, parents floated from one doctor to another, in hopes of identifying the name of the disability, the cause, some direction, and a cure.

Flash to 2011, when I opened my business to new clients. Over the years, I’ve met hundreds of individuals with autism. However, I had not worked directly with a child, or family, in obtaining services and supports for the daily care of a child with autism.

Today in 2013, I have an even greater appreciation and compassion for those with autism, and their families. I stand in awe of their extraordinary tenacity and the day-to-day care they provide for such remarkable individuals.

From Web MD I share the following:

“From the early 1900s, autism has referred to a range of neuro-psychological conditions. . . .

“The word ‘autism,’ which has been in use for about 100 years, comes from the Greek word ‘autos,’ meaning ‘self.’ The term describes conditions in which a person is removed from social interaction – hence, an isolated self.

“Eugen Bleuler, a Swiss psychiatrist, was the first person to use the term. He started using it around 1911 to refer to one group of symptoms of schizophrenia.

“In the 1940s, researchers in the United States began to use the term ‘autism’ to describe children with emotional or social problems. Leo Kanner, a doctor from Johns Hopkins University, used it to describe the withdrawn behavior of several children he studied. At about the same time, Hans Asperger, a scientist in Germany, identified a similar condition that’s now called Asperger’s syndrome.

“From the 1960s through the 1970s, research into treatments for autism focused on medications such as LSD, electric shock, and behavioral change techniques.”

During the 1980s and 1990s, the role of behavioral therapy and language therapy became the cornerstones of autism therapy.

Join me as I fast forward to my dream and Josh Hubner’s painting efforts. What an awesome young man, completing an Eagle Scout project at the same time as his senior year! His parents Blue Springs’ residents, Benton and Sherri Hubner, must be very proud.

You see, the dream is an art and music therapy center for children and adults with autism, multiple developmental disabilities, veterans, stroke patients, any personal in need, with a disability.

I cannot wait until our grand opening. We can and will change lives. Is this exciting or what?!

This column came as a result of Putting Families First and Company of Champions. We are a 501 (c) 3 aimed at reinforcing and supporting all families, including families who have a family member with special needs.

Thanks Josh for kicking the ball off. You are amazing, remarkable awesome, and a tremendous blessing to those in need!

(We have 2 remaining Eagle, scout projects available for the Art and Music Therapy Center. Please contact 816-224-2000 or Jacksoncountyfamilyweek@yahoo.com for more information)

Diane Mack is coordinator of Putting Families First, Jackson County’s Family Week Foundation. Email her at jacksoncountyfamilyweek@yahoo.com or visit www.jacksoncountyfamilyweek.org.