The Busalacchi Family
I first want to thank you for being part of today, and this wonderful endeavor...The Gathering.
My name is Nikki Busalacchi. I am the mother of Nate and Ben Busalacchi, twins, that are both significantly affected by autism. My boys are 11 years old and are both nonverbal. They are the sweetest, simplest, most lovable boys you will ever meet. They have so many great qualities and talents. They also have a lot of challenges and deficits. These challenges and deficits make the easiest of things for you or me, extremely difficult for them. They struggle with crowds, or should I say any new people in general.
They are very sound sensitive and cannot handle loud noises. They struggle with change and unpredictability. With all of these challenges I just mentioned, it will come as no surprise that taking my boys to new places, public places, is something my family is not able to do. My boys cannot go to any family functions outside of our home. My boys cannot go to church, the grocery store, restaurants or on a vacation. We miss birthday parties, graduations, family reunions, funerals, you name it, because of autism. My family has not taken a vacation since my boys were born. I have another son that is not affected by autism. We have never been able to take him on a vacation either, due to his brothers' limitations. We miss his sporting events, choir concerts, and all other activities because Nate and Ben are unable to join us, and we need to stay back to care for them.
Raising two, special needs boys is taxing! It is physically, mentally, and financially exhausting! Our boys do not sleep through the night (as many autistic people do not.) My boys require 24-hour care and supervision. They have allergies to almost all foods. They need to have many medications administered to them throughout the day. Their needs in addition to their limitations also inhibit us from taking a vacation, having a night out or taking an unheard of "nap" to rest our tired and drained bodies.
What The Gathering would mean to me, and my beautiful family is... A safe place for Nate and Ben's EVERY need to be met. A place of paradise where my boys can thrive and have fun. Countless opportunities for them to engage with others if they choose, or a “quiet place" for them to "chill”, and their desire to do so, would be respected. Trained, educated, conditioned and loving caretakers to ensure all of the above happens. The chance of a real vacation, a night out, a nap!!! And... being able to do these activities, without worrying if my boys are being well taken care of. My boys being well taken care of, is probably the biggest reason why my family has been so limited with opportunities for respite. I do not trust anyone with my most prized