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Autism Benefit Concert in Pensacola

Lindsay Myers

A benefit concert in Pensacola Sunday will help the mother of an autistic child complete training in an intensive, home-based therapy program. While, the Son-RiseProgram isn’t widely acclaimed in the Autism community, Mary Sanford believes in its effectiveness and plans to share what she’s learning with other parents of autistic children.

Sanford, who is an elementary school music teacher in Escambia County, organized the benefit.  She’s calling it “Ari’s Big Fundraiser.”  Ari is her four year old son, who was diagnosed with autism when he was 20 months old.

In her search for more help for Ari, Sanford learned about the Son-Rise Program. It was founded in the 1970's by Barry Neil and Samahria Kaufman, who developed an intensive interaction therapy to help their autistic son Raun.

To date, Sanford has completed two of the program’s three courses.  She has organized Sunday’s benefit concert in order to help raise the funds needed to travel to the Autism Treatment Center of America in Massachusetts to attend the third and final course.  She’s doing this primarily for her son Ari, who is now talking and making eye contact.  More importantly, she says her mission is to share the information she’s gaining with as many people affected by Autism as possible.

The concert will be held from 4-7 pm at The Yard in Pensacola’s East Hill. It will include a group performance of Ari’s favorite song, “I Won’t Give Up” by Jason Mraz

There’s more information at http://fundly.com/ari-s-fundraiser.

Sandra Averhart has been News Director at WUWF since 1996. Her first job in broadcasting was with (then) Pensacola radio station WOWW107-FM, where she worked 11 years. Sandra, who is a native of Pensacola, earned her B.S. in Communication from Florida State University.