Having a young child diagnosed with autism is shocking. Finding out that an intensive preschool for him
will cost $30,000 a year can be staggering.
But the Titus family, which includes John and Tabatha and children, Emma, 6, Maggie, 4 and Ian, 3, rolled
up their sleeves and got to work. They cut corners where they could – putting off haircuts, not mulching
the yard at their Westgate home and forgoing dance classes for the girls – so Ian could attend preschool
at St. Vincent Mercy Children’s Hospital in Toledo.
But even with a $20,000 scholarship, Tabatha, who teaches preschool, and John, who is in real estate,
knew they needed a good old-fashioned fundraiser to come up with the rest of the cash.
"It’s just so hard right now to ask people for money. Then I thought ‘people have stuff.’ We’ll just
ask people for their stuff that they don’t want anymore."
The idea has blossomed into a gigantic garage sale benefit set for Friday and Saturday. Items for sale
include three cribs, strollers, an oak dining room table, chairs, desks, computer table, recliners, all
size clothing and "toys galore."
The sale will be held at two locations, 929 Lyn Road and 1016 Clark St.
Melissa Atkinson, of Bowling Green, plans to donate clothes. Titus teaches her boys, Sam and Timmy, at
Bright Beginnings Preschool.
"It’s for a good cause and I know how much it will help," she said.
Atkinson admires Titus’s way of dealing with Ian’s diagnosis. "If anyone can, she can. She’s
Even though Ian is just 3 years old, the Titus family feels an urgency to start treatment now. He’s
started school at St. Vincent’s and will attend year-round, five days a week from 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.
"It is so important. Everything I’ve read, all the doctors I’ve talked to (say) with autism you have
a window between ages 3 and 5 when their brain is maturing and you’ve just go to get to it," Titus
Early treatment, she said, could save money in the long run, especially if Ian can be
"main-streamed" into public schools.
Ian’s pediatrician first suggested he was autistic this fall. It took weeks to find a doctor and Titus
said the family got a crash course in food allergies, treatment suggestions, therapy and insurance.
With the latter issue, "We have insurance. It’s just not going to cover that."
Titus hopes if enough people get educated about autism, it will be easier to diagnose and insurance
companies will pay for treatment.
"When you think about it, it’s one in 150 kids (that is diagnosed with autism). If that swine flu
was one in 150 we’d be wearing masks right now. But where are we with autism? They’re not calling it an
She admits that autism is sometimes difficult to pinpoint because its symptoms are so varied.
"Some kids can’t speak, some kids can. Some kids will drool, they are non-communicative, they will
beat their heads on the wall," she said. "Ian, thank goodness, is on the mild end but he will
have lifelong consequences."
To help him – and the family – deal with what’s to come, Titus also decided to go back to school and get
her master’s degree in special education. She got an assistantship at Bowling Green State University, so
school is paid.
"He will need help forever. Going back to school will help him, help me and help us forever."