"And the tragedy is that even in this day and age, the kid who has Autism is often forgotten about. The feeling is that he's almost a waste of time, which says a lot more about society than it does the child. It's heartbreaking."
- Ernie Els
ERNIE ELS ON AUTISM
It is three years since our seven-year old son
Ben was diagnosed with Autism. We'd suspected
for a few years that something was wrong.
I mean, there's a process that every kid goes
through. Crawl at nine months, walk at
12 months, and then start talking and so on.
With Ben we started thinking:
'Why is he not crawling? Why is he not walking?
Why is he not looking me in the eye?'
Things like that. We soon discovered he was
quite severely touched by Autism.
One in 110 children is affected by Autism
and that was perhaps the most shocking
thing about all of this; the number of people
it affects. And you know, it hits the whole family
hard. For a long time you are trying to figure out 'What just happened to my life?' You feel sorry for yourself and for your kid and for your family. And the tragedy is that even in this day and age, the kid who has Autism is often forgotten about. The feeling is that he's almost a waste of time, which says a lot more about society than it does the child. It's heartbreaking.
Ben's condition was the main driving force behind our decision to relocate our base from Wentworth to West Palm Beach in Florida. The move has benefits for my golf, but more importantly we have been able to secure a more intensive form of therapy for Ben. And he's doing great. He might act and say things a little differently from other kids, and he obviously has some difficulties, but he understands everything we say and is particularly in tune with our emotions; it's almost like a sixth sense. And thank God he's got such a nice nature. He's a very friendly, very happy, very shy kid and the more loving attention he gets and the smiles that he sees, the better. Samantha, his older sister, is great with him.
Liezl and I are private people, but we are also very much in the public eye and we recognise that this gives us a platform to help raise funds and awareness for the causes of Autism and its possible treatments. It is something that we both feel very passionate about.
We established our Els for Autism Foundation in the spring of 2009. My first goal was to help create a Center of Excellence, a model for the world of what should be available to children on the autism spectrum. The Center will launch a global digital learning platform that will make best practices in education and therapy available to thousands of children around the world on the autism spectrum. The Center will also have on site education for ages 3-21, professional and medical services, research and transition to adulthood. We're working with some of the best experts in the world to make the Center a reality.
Years from now people may remember me as a golfer and a major champion. But I'd like also to be remembered as somebody who took the issue of Autism and did something with it. The rest of my life, I'll be fighting this thing...I hope you'll join with me.
Thank you for your interest in the Ernie Els Centre for Autism in South Africa. We appreciate any/all donations, which go towards ensuring the families we support can continue to get the guidance they so deserve.
Branch Code: 580105
Account No: 50006458816
Account Name: Els For Autism Charitable Foundation
Reference: [INSERT NAME] – Donation