Helping One of Our Own

Charitable Campaign lends an assist to members of the Georgia Tech family

People at Tech are not only generous in giving to the annual Charitable Campaign. In several cases, recipients of donations have direct ties to Tech, as well.

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Jorge Ashe benefited from early intervention treatment at the Marcus Autism Center. His mother and father both were students at Georgia Tech. The State Charitable Contributions Program assists more than 1,200 organizations state- and nation-wide.

Leah Ashe is a former student, studying International Affairs. Although she hasn't finished her degree yet, she is a Tech legacy-her father earned his undergraduate and graduate degrees from Tech-and her husband studied computer programming at Tech.

When they had their first child, Jorge, the doctors told her the boy would never be "normal." They told Ashe her son would never walk, and would probably never communicate because of a genetic disorder. Coupled with these other medical issues, her son also suffered from autism.

Through contributions to the state campaign, Ashe was able to receive help and treatment for their son from the Marcus Autism Center in Atlanta. The not-for-profit organization, started by Home Depot co-founder Bernie Marcus and his wife, treats more than 4,000 children with autism and related developmental disorders a year. Families are able to receive diagnosis, treatment and support in one location.

Ashe is executive director of the Vitamin B Council, an organization she formed to provide parents with information regarding children diagnosed with Pyridoxine dependency, a disorder that prevents affected individuals from processing vitamin B6 correctly. Like a majority of individuals who share this diagnosis, it is the medical cause of Jorge's autism.

Within a few months of starting at the Marcus Autism Center, Jorge was able to communicate verbally, and was walking and running independently. Now, after two years in the Early Intervention Program, he communicates normally, tests with a normal IQ, and Ashe says that her son is not only walking, but running and playing with other children. Jorge is expected to be mainstreamed with his typical peers for kindergarten next fall.

When their younger son, Leo, was also diagnosed with autistic symptoms, he was immediately enrolled in the Marcus Autism Center. He has now been mainstreamed in a typical preschool. By enrolling their sons into the center's services early, Ashe and her husband now have confidence that they will both have bright futures.

Full-time enrollment in the Marcus Autism Center's Early Intervention Program is 30 hours per week of treatment, and costs more than $115,000 per year.

Since insurance typically refuses to pay any portion of this amount, parents are left to apply for scholarships that are funded in part by charitable contributions to the Marcus Autism Center.
Ashe plans to return to Tech and earn her degree. "Thanks to the help our sons received at the Marcus Autism Center and the progress they have made, I will be able to return to my studies sooner than expected," she said. "I am excited about setting such a good example for our children, but am even more excited about watching them continue to beat the odds and have bright, happy futures."

 

The Marcus Autism Center is just one of more than 1,200 organizations assisted by the State Charitable Contributions Program. The 2009-2010 Georgia Tech Charitable Campaign continues through Nov. 30. Log into TechWorks to contribute through one-time donation or via paycheck deduction.

The Georgia Institute of Technology is one of the world's premier research universities. Ranked seventh among U.S. News & World Report's top public universities and the eighth best engineering and information technology university in the world by Shanghai Jiao Tong University's Academic Ranking of World Universities, Georgia Tech’s more than 20,000 students are enrolled in its Colleges of Architecture, Computing, Engineering, Liberal Arts, Management and Sciences. Tech is among the nation's top producers of women and minority engineers. The Institute offers research opportunities to both undergraduate and graduate students and is home to more than 100 interdisciplinary units plus the Georgia Tech Research Institute.