Autism program presented at Golden K meeting

KINGSFORD – A beautiful morning when 40 plus Golden K members met together for coffee and donuts on Monday, Aug. 4. It’s always a good time when friends meet for fellowship, singing and a special program.

Chairman of the month Bob Tachik got the meeting rolling with the “Pledge of Allegiance” and singing of “God Bless America.”

Happy Birthday was sung for Hank London. Hank said “Happy I made it to 92 yesterday.” Hank is an active member of GK and still sings regularly with the Golden Throats.

Happy Anniversary was sung for Dr. Don and Sally Jacobs.

The GK “Guest and Welcome song” was sung for Dawn Hirn and her husband, Don of Florence, Wis. Dawn was the speaker for the day.

Golden Krs were pleasantly surprised to have a cute little visitor toddled into the room to listen to GK singing and then dancing to the beat of the music. Her name was Kayla. She looked to be about two years old. Not too far behind was her daddy.

At the piano was Alyce Derwinski while Margaret Trudell was directing the singing. They are a great musical team.

Gil Engel offered prayer and Thought for the Day, “Forgiveness is an antidote for rage.”

Don Pedo read the Happy Dollars. Many Golden K’rs said, “Happy to be alive, and just happy to be here.” If you want to see smiles and be with happy people just come to Golden K on Monday morning 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. at the Presbyterian Church hall on Hamilton Ave. in Kingsford. You’ll be glad you did.

Lucky winner of the 50/50 drawing was Marty Wannanen.

Harlan Walters reminded members about the GK peanut fund-raiser, by wearing his blue and gold apron and GK hat. He was happy to announce that all stations for the promo have captains. He thanked peanut co-chairman, Kirk Olson, for what he is doing to help make the fund-raiser a success. All moneys raised through the peanut promo stays in the community to benefit others.

Program chairman Gil Engel introduced the program speaker, Dawn Hirn. Her topic was “Autism There is Hope.”

Dawn and her husband, Don and their three children live at Keyes Lake in Florence, Wis.

Dawn spoke about her own experiences as a mother who is dealing with her own children with autism.

She spoke of her first hand struggles trying to get information and help in dealing with autism.

She told of dealing with health departments, state programs, Wisconsin State Medical Board, grants, school systems, etc.

She talked about her son, Andrew who has autism. Through the state of Wisconsin help was given, but they would only pay for limited hours of travel time for a therapist from Green Bay.

Andrew has been having speech therapy since age one. Andrew could not speak. They taught him how to sit, so he would sit and listen to adults talk. From that he learned to make conversation. Andrew is now in second grade. He is good in sports. Everything to him is either right or wrong or black and white. There is no in between.

Andrew is now in social therapy. Dawn said, “Autism is an expensive proposition.”

Many with autism have other issues. The immune system is not good. They can cough and cough.

The cause of autism is not known. Kids with autism don’t look any different so it is hard to tell that they have autism. No two kids are alike. Some may be violent and can’t help it. Dawn believes that those who get violent are probably hurting some place, but can’t tell it. The hurt could be a stomachache or something like that.

Dawn herself has worked with others with autism. She worked with one girl who went to high school for 10 years, who seems to be doing quite well

She says, how do you heal them? From what? In 1995 vaccines were started, but it is not sure of how they help. Dawn says that by 2001 one of every 250 had autism.

She also believes that diet and environment has a lot to do with autism, a neurological disease.

Andrew was born in May. Then in March as he sat at a birthday party just watching others from a loft and saying nothing, was the first sign of something being wrong.

Andrew’s mom says that his classmates are very supportive of him and helpful.

She also expressed appreciation to the Golden K for the support GK gives to special needs kids.

Our thanks to Dawn Hirn for telling her personal and emotional story of dealing with autism and the hope she still has for those with autism.

In closing Dawn said, “Best thing you can give a child with autism, is your time.” How true for any child.

Anyone from Wisconsin or Michigan having questions about autism is welcome to call Dawn Hirn in Florence at 528-7391. She has gained a lot of knowledge as she sought help for her own situation the past several years. Remember, “There is Hope.”

The Golden Throats sing at Manor Care on Aug. 13.

Marty Waananen is program chairman for the Aug. 11 GK meeting. Meetings begin at 10 a.m. and are done promptly at 11 a.m. The GK board of directors will meet immediately after the regular meeting. For those who enjoy golden oldies. Singing starts about 9:40 a.m. Visitors are welcome to visit or join GK any Monday morning.