Local family offers to share home with autistic child

StoryImage( ‘/Images/Story//Auto-img-11267336115898.jpg’, ‘Photo provided’, ‘Jeff and Yasmin Turner have big hearts and are offering their home to a family of Hurricane Katrina with children who have autism.’);

Jeff and Yasmin Turner have big hearts. Though not wealthy, they have found a way to make a most generous donation to someone in need from Hurricane Katrina’s aftermath. They are offering to share their Rockford home with someone who has autism.

When they heard of the emergency created by Hurricane Katrina, said Jeff Turner, they immediately wanted to help. “It’s obviously devastating (for anyone), but for a family with someone with autism, the environment—any kind of changes can be devastating to a child with that (disorder)… It’s devastating even for children without autism, but for a child with autism, it’s terrible… There’s so much we take for granted. We have a home that’s not big, but we can accommodate someone.”

The medical condition of autism is defined as “a mental disorder originating in infancy that is characterized by self-absorption, inability to interact socially, repetitive behavior, and language dysfunction (as echolalia)” (Merriam Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, Tenth Edition).

The Turners live in a small ranch-style home with three bedrooms but could accommodate a family. “We are very familiar with autism spectrum disorders,” said Yasmin. “We have a 4-year-old son with autism, a 2-year-old and a nearly 4-month-old. We do not have much to give financially, so the least we can do is open our home to another family. I would hope someone would do the same if we were in this horrific situation.”

The Turners have “a very loving, nurturing home” that they consider to be autism-friendly. “We have pecs, asl, a sensory-friendly playroom with a spandex swing, ball pen, trampoline…a fenced-in yard as our son is a wanderer—with two swing sets and a sandbox,” added Yasmin.

Sleeping space can be arranged. The home does not have guest rooms, but as Yasmin explained, “we are a bed-friendly family, so one or both of our children’s small rooms could be made available—one of which has a bunk bed. We also have a queen-size air mattress.”

Jeff Turner pointed out that his wife is a stay-at-home mom, so there would always be someone there to supervise. TRRT inquired whether they were registered with the American Red Cross or some other agency, making it known that their home is available.

“No,” said Jeff. “We did this through the autism Web site, www.cureautismnow. They have people who can post on it if you want to offer assistance. I don’t know if they put this posting on anything else like the American Red Cross. We could help any family, but we wanted to do it this way, since one out of 166 kids has some form of autism. So we figured there had to be some kids out there like our son who could use a good, stable home… They have a high sensory diet. They need a lot of stimulation and tactile stuff. Really, it’s just some love and support and food and a warm place to sleep, clothes and things like that.”

The Turners understand the need for stability in the midst of confusion. “With the uncertainty of where you are going to be, they are living with complete chaos, but at least it would be loving chaos. We want to show them the kind of people we are and give them a sense of security, if they’re taken out of their element and out of their state,” added Jeff.

The Turners may be contacted at (815) 793-5126 (cell) or through the Web site, www.cureautismnow.

From the Sept. 14-20, 2005, issue

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