DDR Marks 10th Anniversary

by Patricia Lemer, MEd, NCC

One fateful day in April, 1994, a parent of a twin boy, newly diagnosed with autism met with Patricia Lemer, DDR Executive Director. It was late on a Friday afternoon, and Patty, impatient after a long week, unknowing began finishing this young mother’s sentences.

"How did you know that my child was allergic to milk?"

"How did you know he never crawled?"

"How did you know he had a reaction to the MMR vaccine?" asked the mother.

"Because I have heard your story a thousand times," was the answer.

"But I thought my child was unique!" cried the mother.

"Unfortunately, he is not."

"Then let’s start a Registry," replied the mother.

Patty called her friend and colleague, Kelly Dorfman. Developmental Delay Resources was born. Among the first members of the Professional Advisory Board were Bernie Rimland, Sid Baker and Steve Edelson, the core of Defeat Autism Now! (DAN!) Ten years ago they assured the DDR co-founders, that there was, indeed a need for such an organization as a clearinghouse for newly diagnosed families. Despite ours and others’ prodigious efforts, that need still exists.

On April 17, 2004, at the Spring DAN! Conference in McLean, Virginia, DDR honored its Founders and professional pioneers, while marking its 10th anniversary with a fund-raising auction. Kelly and the first Advisory Board members all received trophies, and Patty accepted a spectacular handmade painted and beaded flower clock crafted by artist, Jeannette Chamberlin, representing the time she took to make DDR bloom.

Thanks to the generosity of over 100 donors, including laboratories, sensory integration products manufacturers, gluten-and casein-free bakeries, auditory and vision therapy providers, and DAN! Conference administrator, Maureen McDonnell, the auction raised thousands of dollars. A substantial donation was made to DAN! to continue its important work.

The live auction was extremely lively. Paul Shattock donned a tuxedo and played auctioneer. He was stupendous, urging donors to double up on their gifts, when two people vied for popular items. Bidders won a signed copy of Bernie Rimland’s Infantile Autism and beautifully appointed baskets of luscious GF/CF products. Even those who purchased a $5 raffle ticket were in the running for prizes worth over $500.

In the past 10 years, much has changed. Rather than relying on phone and snail mail, we correspond with you electronically. Instead of implicating vaccines alone, we now know that the mercury and other metals are poisoning our children. Researchers are still searching for safe, effective ways of removing these toxins and restoring health and function.

DDR’s following has grown with members in all 50 states and a dozen foreign countries. We have published almost 40 issues of this newsletter, seven years of which are available in bound volumes with subject and name indexing. Most issues are supported by grants from sponsors who fund printing costs in exchange for the cover article. We reserved this special anniversary issue for ourselves. Unfortunately, too much has remained the same. Many new parents are still unaware that they can make informed medical choices. School snacks continue to be laden with sugar, gluten and the wrong kinds of fats, washed down with cow’s milk. DDR’s work is not done. We must continue to put our funds to use helping to educate families about treatment options and networking them with dedicated professionals.

One thing that has not changed is that DDR remains "The ONE Resource Network Integrating Conventional and Holistic Approaches." Adopted as our byline in 2000, this statement reflects DDR’s commitment to providing information about therapies which give hope for recovery from autism spectrum disorders, AD(H)D and learning disabilities. As long as the need is there, we will continue our mission through nationwide conferences and workshops and newsletter. To quote Bernie Rimland, "AUTISM IS TREATABLE!" Let’s fervently hope that we do not have to mark another anniversary milestone!

[Initially published in New Developments: Volume 9, Number 3 - Summer, 2004]

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