BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD) – Deon Farr is the sort of mother who would move mountains for her children. Years ago, when her son Deontay was seven, doctors diagnosed him with autism.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention describes autism spectrum disorder, or ASD, as “a developmental disability that can cause significant social, communication and behavioral challenges.” Researchers say there are multiple causes that can contribute, like a genetic difference. All the possible causes aren’t known.
The CDC says many children who are diagnosed around the age that Deontay’s ASD was identified show symptoms like:
- avoiding eye contact.
- continually repeating words or phrases.
- getting upset by minor changes.
- stemming, such as – flapping their hands, spinning in circles, rocking.
- unusual reactions to the way things sound, smell, taste, look or feel.
Farr wanted to give Deontay the best opportunities possible. So, the mother of two stepped up to help as best she could.
Farr started an organization called Steppin 4 Autism. And she did more. Farr said, “We started researching and taking classes. I got a job doing home therapy to better help my son, and now I can help others and give parents the support they need.”
Since then, 13 years have passed. Deontay is 20 and Steppin 4 Autism is a beacon in the community, shedding light on the challenges and needs centered around ASD.
The group hosts free basketball camps for children with autism, sets up free haircut days and gives free iPads to help nonverbal children communicate. Steppin 4 Autism also sets up a turkey drive every Thanksgiving and a bike/toy drive each Christmas.
Autism Awareness Month is observed annually in April. This year, as the month neared, Farr found herself facing two shattering situations.
“I was having a rough month in March. My oldest son was diagnosed with cancer at 29 and had to have open-heart surgery and thyroid surgery to remove the cancer. It has been a long month of back and forth to New Orleans while he fought for his life,” Farr said.
Deontay also suffered a health scare.
“There was no way I was prepared to pull off an event for autism awareness,” Farr said.
But she’s learned to persevere through overwhelming situations.
Farr said, “April seventh my son was finally released from the hospital, and on that day, I decided we have to do something for Autism Awareness.”
Kickball for Autism and will be at noon Saturday, April 22 at Broadmoor High School.
“We are preparing to have at least three teams,” Farr said. “We will have a sensory tent available if a child may need to take a break. I hope to have food vendors and a great family day.”
If you’d like to volunteer at the event or support it as a vendor, visit www.steppin4autism.com or call (414) 916-8331.
Farr said, “Support can be given by coming out, making a donation or by just simply spreading the word.”