In 2007, my son Tyler was diagnosed with what was then a disability that I was completely uneducated on, like most that have not dealt with it first hand. Why would I know anything about this disability known as Autism? I remember when my wife and I were first told that Tyler had Autism. I thought big deal, it’s a learning disability that he will overcome and in a few years he will be fine, right? I wish I was right, but unfortunately at the time, we were not properly informed about what the Autism diagnosis actually meant. Tyler has a “Classical Autism” diagnosis. He was diagnosed at age three and has made tremendous progress over the years. I have learned a lot about Autism Spectrum Disorder over the years and have studied all aspects of ASD from Asperger’s to severe Autism. Tyler’s main focus of improvement has been communication, and aggressive behaviors in the past few years. We currently use sensory integration to decrease aggressive behaviors and intensive teaching strategies to increase generalized language skills and decrease scripting behaviors. We have a long road ahead for Tyler but he is demonstrating steady progress in all areas. All that being said, Tyler is the reason why I created Game4Autism!
As a gamer myself I always found comfort in playing video games. When I was young I had a learning disability. This was 30 years ago who knows maybe I would have been put on the spectrum. I always enjoyed zoning out reality and jumping into exciting pixelized worlds of the unknown like Mario, Zelda, and Final Fantasy. In May 2013, I was struggling with Tyler’s Autism diagnosis and was falling into depression. Around this time his aggressive behavior was extremely difficult to control. I needed a way to cope with the struggles I was personally going through. One evening, I was gaming and went on Twitter and found an entire community of gamers like myself that I didn’t know existed. So I just thought why not start an organization that spreads Autism awareness in the gaming community and try to make a difference in a way that I love, Gaming!
Game4Autism started very slowly, I almost gave up many times. But since then I have met so many amazing and generous gamers and eSport organizations that have been more than just helpful, they have become my family. I found out very quickly that the gaming community takes care of one another. We have over 4,000 followers on Twitter at @Game4Autism, have our own streaming channel on MLG.TV/game4autism, and a website game4autism.org for gamers to get information about Autism awareness, acceptance, and support. In addition we are proud to announce we are now a nonprofit organization!
Game4Autism’s most recent fundraiser was dedicated to the National Autism Association’s Big Red Safety Box program. We partnered up with RizeUp Gaming a group of gamers and streamers dedicated year round to fundraising for various causes on Twitch.tv/rizeupgaming. I was honored to be asked to participate in this year’s RizeUp Gaming’s 3rd Annual Logan Grisham Charity Marathon. The event lasted 8 days with over a dozen streamers partaking in the event.
RizeUp Gaming has some of the most entertaining streamers in the community. Not only did they game but they raised donations by doing various giveaways, singing karaoke for donations, which is hilarious by the way, and even had a streamer Mewphisto shave his luscious beard on stream for charity! To date we have raised over $5400 – enough to give 160 families Big Red Safety Boxes and we expect more donations to be rolling in shortly. Game4Autism chose the NAA because we believe in everything the NAA strives to achieve. Focusing on wandering behavior, safety, sensory behaviors, and supporting the Autism community, the National Autism Association has the same goal as Game4Autism. The mission of the National Autism Association is “to respond to the most urgent needs of the autism community, providing real help and hope so that all affected can reach their full potential.”
Here at Game4Autism we are very excited about 2016 and another amazing year of fundraising for the Autism community!
WTG_ReV, HogwinHD, VampireChickKL, Mewphisto, batpenguin5, 13fridaygirl, LunarsLee, NSquaredPlays, GIA_SKILLZ, G4A_Wolfy, BnC_Gaming, alexj421, llNafetsll, StDxRighteous, HvK_ESports, TeamPwnage, LethalGaming, MLG, mMmRockstarr, eXcellence Gaming, pdhmxgaming, mommaclayster, Forever1Ghost, AegonTV, ShroudofAvatar, and all #G4A followers!
– Justin Romandy, Game4Autism
This fundraising event was a blast to watch. We were so impressed by the gaming community and their sincere compassion for others. All of us at NAA extend our thanks to Justin for sharing his story, Game4Autism, RizeUp Gaming and everyone who participated in this event. P.S. Mewphisto – you look mah-velous!
It’s easy to set up your own fundraising event page to support NAA’s program, just click here to get started!