April is Autism Awareness Month. The Ward family from Lower Paxton Township, Dauphin County has an adult son living with autism.
We caught up with Andrew at work.
"Andrew works at CIT, The Pollock Center in Mechanicsburg. He started in high school a couple days a week and he's been here since he graduated. He's been here seven years now and it's a wonderful place for him to work," his mother Dorothy Ward said.
It's been a long journey for Ward and his family.
"When he was diagnosed about 23 years ago the ratio was one in 10 thousand," Dorothy Ward said.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, one in 68 children will be diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder; a 30 percent increase from two years ago. Autism Spectrum Disorder is five times more common among boys than girls.
Caring for a child or an adult with ASD can be expensive. The Ward family is trying to ease the financial burden for other families.
"We started this foundation as a way to give back to the community. We've been very fortunate to provide for a lot of different things for Andrew over his lifetime" said Ward.
The foundation, Andrew's Gift, offers grants to cover what insurance will not for individuals living with ASD. For now, Andrew's Gift serves families in Dauphin, Cumberland and Perry counties.
"We do plan to expand that. Families can go to our website and apply for funds for a variety of things," Ward said. "So far we've had applications for therapeutic horseback riding, music therapy, reading comprehension programs and of course technology, iPads, because I know technology is huge in our household and I know it's made Andrew's life better, as it has our family's, because he enjoys it so much," Ward said.
Quality of life and joy are what the Wards want to share by giving back to the community.
"One hundred percent of the money goes to families. There is no overhead. It all goes to family needs," Ward said.
If you would like to make a donation to Andrew's Gift, or apply for a grant, the website is www.andrewsgift26.com.