Mother's Letter from DJF Founder,
Linda Walder Fiddle
The Daniel Jordan Fiddle Foundation was inspired by my son Danny and the world his lifetime exposed me to. At the time of its inception, The Daniel Jordan Fiddle Foundation trustees determined that the Foundation’s mission would focus on providing grants specifically geared to programs that enhance the lives of young adults transitioning to adult life and adults living with Autism. To my knowledge, no other organization in the country was or is solely focusing on young adults transitioning to adulthood and adults living with Autism. This mission derived from my concerns for the future of my child and my desire to always provide him with the fullest array of opportunities throughout his lifetime. At the time, Danny was an adorable boy whom everyone gravitated to with love and support but what was going to happen to him as he grew to adulthood? I had only begun to realize the issues facing adult individuals living with Autism and how these issues affect the entire family.
Now I realize that the concerns I had for Danny, my concerns, were not unique to me at all. Thousands of parents wrestle with the same concerns on a daily basis and stay up many sleepless nights wondering how their adult son or daughter living with Autism will be able to live and function in the community or if they will be able to at all and even more troubling, who is going to take care of their child when they no longer can? As plaguing as these questions are to a parent of an individual living with Autism, I have also come to realize that these questions and concerns should be uprooting and unsettling to the community at large. We as a community, as parents of healthy, normally developing children, should be concerned about the consequences of not providing residential, vocational, recreational and educational opportunities for adults living with Autism. The more opportunities adults living with Autism have to live and work in the community and to be as self-sufficient as possible, the less of a burden it will be not only on the families but on all of us.
Today, as in 2002 when we awarded our first grants to programs for adults on the spectrum, The Daniel Jordan Fiddle Foundation is fully and exclusively committed to adults living with Autism spectrum. Since our inception, we have steadily grown and expanded our reach by developing new and innovative programs for adults that are guided models for replication by service providers and community organizations throughout the United States. We are proudly a leading advocate on the state and national levels for issues that affect adults including health care, housing and jobs. We are always cognizant that what matters most is the quality of life for each person and that each person must be respected and honored for who they are and we do so in our organization every day because we listen to our self-advocate advisors and their peers. Respect from his community is what I would always have wanted for Danny and this is what I hope for all adults affected by an autism challenge.
Several years ago, I was at an Autism conference and during the luncheon I was seated next to a parent of a teenager living with Autism. After we had spoken for a while, she asked me why I do what I do since I no longer had to face the challenges she had before her. Honestly, until she asked me that question, it had never occurred to me that I would not choose to do what I am doing. When I thought about it later, I realized that Danny is and will always be with me, inspiring me to encourage and create opportunities for individuals living with Autism to live the fullest lives possible. And there is so much work to be done, so like my days with Danny, I will keep going...