Puzzle Pieces Squared has been such a blessing to our Autism Program! I contacted Puzzle Pieces Squared on January 28, 2020 via the internet. I received a call from Jared Silverstein the same evening! We spoke about the Autism Program at Kensington High School, located in the Kensington section of Philadelphia, PA. Our program was in dire need of classroom supplies to maintain functionality of our instructional classrooms. Jared listened to me, heard what needs we had as an educational program and responded with funds to provide classroom supplies to keep 4 classrooms functional. 37 students with Autism will benefit from the kindness and vision of Puzzle Pieces Squared!
Kristen L. Deppenschmidt (Ms. Depp)
Kensington High School
Lead Autistic Support Teacher
Puzzle Pieces Squared,
When my husband and I got married we had no idea how our lives would be. We met each other in the Navy and were so excited to start a family. We both loved kids and thought havingkids would be easy. Boy were we wrong.
When our first child Ella was born right away I knew something wasn’t quite right. I came from a very large family with 8siblings so I had been around lots of children. Early on my daughter had a very hard time closing her mouth to try to nurse or bottle feed. She cried a lot as a baby and it was exhausting trying to please her. As a toddler she was actually pretty happy but was absolutely unable to chew or drink from a straw. We had to spoon feed her soft mushy foods that she could swallow without chewing. We tried many therapists and specialists but no one was able to help her in any way since she was such an extreme case. We were finally able to locate a specialist 3 hours away from us who didn’t even accept insurance but we had no choice but to take her there. I had to purchase many special tools and do one on one therapy with her every day following the plan the specialist laid out.
Not only was the feeding difficult Ella had extreme sensitivities to everything. I remember over and over teaching her how to touch a toy and rejoiced the first time she touched sand without a nosebleed. Her childhood was extremely hard on us. I will never forget finding out my baby girl was diagnosed with Autism at 11 months old. I knew it honestly and was actually relieved because I knew now I could get some real therapy for her. Ella received 30 hours a week of occupational therapy,physical therapy, speech therapy, and feeding therapy.
Little by little Ella made gains and by the age of 9 she had finally conquered how to chew and drink from a cup and straw. The things most of us take for granted in life. Ella has taught me so much about perseverance and true strength. Life has not been easy for Ella. She is going to be 15 in 2 weeks. Ella has Autism, Sensory Processing Disorder, Oral Dysphagia, depression, anxiety, hoarding difficulties, and OCD. We have good days and bad days but we take it one day at a time.
When Ella was 3 we had another child. As soon as Carson was born he was taken away. My heart crumbled right at that moment. Carson was having breathing difficulties. After 3 daysthey told us Carson was in great health but inside I knew this was not the case. Carson also had a very difficult time feeding and sleeping. I kept taking him in to see the doctor and they said he just has to learn to nurse but I knew they were wrong. After a doctor suggested that I take Carson to a geneticist I made an appointment.
At 5 months of age Carson was at a regular checkup when the doctor told us to take him straight to the emergency room because he wasn’t getting enough oxygen. He ended up being hospitalized for 3 weeks. He developed pneumonia and also quit eating completely while in the hospital and had to be put on a feeding tube. During this hospital stay we were also informed by the geneticist that Carson had Williams Syndrome.
Carson was finally able to come home but still with a feeding tube and he had to be on oxygen when he slept. After spoonfeeding Ella for years I finally broke down and felt like a failure. We started services for Carson right away including taking him to the same specialist Ella was seeing 3 hours away. Little by little he made progress and he was able to get rid of the feeding tube and begin to chew. In addition to his feeding issues Carson also was behind in his physical milestones like crawling and sitting up and babbling. At 14 months I took Carson to the Williams Syndrome clinic in Philadelphia but something wasn’t right. Carson wasn’t the social butterfly like other kids with Williams Syndrome were.
It was around this time that Carson was diagnosed with severe autism. Finally at age 3 Carson started to walk but he never talked. Today Carson is nonverbal but does communicate some using the PECS program. He is about to turn 12 but his cognitive ability is around 20 months.
It has definitely been hard for Carson he has two extremelydifferent disorders and he struggles. Carson is considered a crisis child and does have to be restrained at times. We have some good days but also some really hard days. Carson does receive many services but we have to take it day by day and sometimes minute by minute.
My goal with both of these kids is a better quality of life and to see them reach their full potential. I do feel alone at times. My husband is a police officer and I care for the kids most of the time. We don’t receive a lot of outside help with them. Family members are hesitant to watch the kids because they are too nervous to handle them alone but I don’t let this stop me. I take the kids lots of places and just pray one of their triggers don’t ruin the outing.
One of the things that both of our kids love is music. Carson has had music therapy for the past 5 years. We had it twice a month but had to cut down to once a month because of the expense involved. Ella takes ukelele lessons and they have been a really good outlet for her. Carson’s music therapist Brianna told me about the organization Puzzle Piece Squared and I decided to look into it. I filled out the online form and Jared texted me right away. He listened to me and for some reason without even reading about his organization I really felt that he understood our family. Even before the end of that day Jared and his amazing staff granted both kids 32 sessions each of music therapy at my house. I was able to be open with Jared about my concerns with the kids and he was so patient and kind to me which I am not all that used to. I sometimes feel that as the kidsget older our support goes down because people think the kids plateaued. One is a teenager and one is a preteen and you would be surprised how many people give up on them. Jared however really listened and I was able to be open and honest with him without judgment or fear. I am so grateful for this organization and I know that Jared and his family are here to help others.
A sincere thank you from Denise Ropp and family.
Puzzle Pieces Squared,
In 2012 when we got married, we made a donation to Autism Speaks, since our love for teaching brought us together. Little did we know that we would have a daughter who would be diagnosed with Autism at 33 months.
Brianne had a huge regression around 19 months and lost the language that she once had. This is when our lives completely changed forever. We weren't quite sure what day it exactly happened, but the weeks went by and she slowly became nonverbal. Brianne started Early Intervention at 21 months. She had a speech therapist at the time who told us that having another day of speech would not make a difference in helping our daughter. When you have a child with special needs, you will do anything and everything to help them reach their goals. Eventually, Brianne went on to receive occupational therapy, physical therapy, and DI. Our daughter, who we once imagined taking dancing classes and mommy and me classes, was now having therapists come in and out of our home day after day. She was tested for Autism in May 2017, but did not meet the qualifications. We continued with all of her therapies and noticed in the summer of that year that she had another huge regression. Brianne was officially diagnosed with Autism in December 2017. Brianne's grandparents and great-grandparents along with her godmother Melissa helped us during this hardest year of our lives.
Brianne is now in her second year of preschool and is placed in an ABA classroom. She is still a busy girl receiving speech, occupational therapy, and physical therapy in school. She communicates using a PECS (Picture Exchange Communication System). Since Brianne was a baby, she has always loved music....listening, dancing, and watching her favorite TV show Little Einsteins. Unfortunately, our insurance does not cover music therapy. It would be something that Brianne would LOVE while learning too.
This past spring, Brianne had her first playdate with a little boy in her class, Travis. Travis' mom, Ellen, told us how an organization called Puzzle Pieces Squared helped her with her older son. We were amazed by the story, but thought nothing about it again.
At the beginning of the month, we saw Ellen again and told her how much we thought Brianne would benefit from music therapy. She referred us to Puzzle Pieces Squared (again) and told us to take a look at their website. We were in tears reading stories of families that they have helped over the years. We decided to apply for assistance in getting Brianne music therapy. Hours later, Jared called us and let us know that he would be able to help Brianne receive 15 sessions to start and hopefully 7.5 months of therapy!! We were speechless. We cannot thank Jared enough and are excited to be a part of Puzzle Pieces Squared. Please check them out and spread the word that dreams can come true for families like us.
Puzzle Pieces Squared,
Two weeks ago, we had not heard of Puzzle Pieces Squared. Now we are, and forever will be, grateful to Jared, Trish, and the whole committee of Puzzle Pieces Squared, who granted our son Matthew an Eva Penny Silver Camp Scholarship so he can attend a three-week camp! Matthew, who will have just turned 13 when camp starts, has autism, ADHD, and profound cognitive deficits. He is minimally verbal, doesn’t interact with peers, and prefers running around to participating in organized activities. It is very difficult to find sleepaway camps that can accommodate someone with Matthew’s needs, and such camps tend to be very expensive.
We are so excited because this camp is one that will help Matthew learn skills for a life of greater independence and social connectedness. Matthew may not ever be fully independent, but we want him to have a great life, a safe life, surrounded by people who love him, and to be able to take care of himself to whatever extent he is able.
He was accepted to the camp a while back with a partial scholarship (for which we are also very thankful), and we were quickly approaching the date when we’d have to come up with the rest of the funds or give up our spot. Amazingly, someone I met recently mentioned a gala she attended. I asked what kind of gala, and she told me about Puzzle Pieces Squared and how her son was a grant recipient. I asked her if they funded camp, telling her of our situation, and she suggested I get in touch with Jared. Within minutes of contacting him online and supplying him with our telephone number, the phone rang! We spoke for about a half hour, with him asking intelligent and difficult questions, with compassion, humor, and insight. Now, after just a week, Jared informed me that we’d be receiving a very generous grant, and I am awestruck. Thank you, thank you from the bottom of our hearts!!!
In the last few years we have dealt with lots of medical expenses and therapies that were not covered by our insurance. In addition, I had cancer and needed two operations in close succession, plus a great deal of follow-up, and constant anxiety. Now, hopefully past all that, we find ourselves feeling extremely fortunate for our health and for our children and families. And we are so grateful to Puzzle Pieces Squared: we can worry less and be more optimistic about our family’s future.
THANK YOU SO MUCH, Jared, Trish, your beautiful family, and Puzzle Pieces Squared!!!!!! We are overjoyed to be part of the Puzzle Pieces Squared community, and look forward to helping others as you have helped us!
Andrea, Roger, Charlie, and Matthew
Hey Jared and everyone else at puzzle pieces squared!
I would like to share my experience with this incredible organization. My name is Aaron price I am a parent of a beautiful five year old daughter named hope. Hope is the my star in the dark night and when she was 21 months old she was diagnosed with Autism spectrum disorder. At first I was angry, scared and all alone at the time except for my mother who has been Hopes guardian angel. I didn’t know what to do where to turn, thankfully freehold township education system has been terrific as well as Hopes developmental pediatrician. My wife Megan joined our blended family in 2017 and she has stepped right in to be the mother hope never had. In all honesty financially we struggle and it’s hard meeting the demands of every day life. I am currently at Georgian court university seeking my nursing degree so work for me is side work and restaurant jobs. Thankfully my wife being a teacher has great insurance and it covers most of Hopes numerous therapies. Recently I have heard many things on therapeutic horse back riding, which peeked my interest. My daughter hope loves animals, a bond she shares intimately with and something that I cannot explain. They seem to just connect, whether it’s my dog
Or the my cats she seems to understand them more then people sometimes and vice Versa.
So last week I posted a question on a autism friendly Facebook page about horseback riding for our kiddos. I got some feedback but I also found out that insurance will not cover it. But, my friend ellen Malloy who I know from our kids being in the same class at there special education program reached out to me personally and said she may know a group and a person who can help. Ellen told me the mans name Jared of puzzle pieces squared, so I followed her instructions and called him. Not more then an hour later he called me back and we spoke at length about autism and my daughter and the struggles of life and insurance. And for anyone going through this it’s so comforting when your able to talk to someone who “gets it”. People may say they understand but a lot of the time they don’t not unless you go through it yourself. Jared told me that is foundation may be able to help. He gave me the background of puzzle pieces squared and why he began this foundation. And honestly I was at a loss for words, the world would be a much better place if there were more foundations like this that address the issues not just research that won’t affect the hopes of the world currently. Research is great but what about today, our kids today?
So, Jared told me to email him what I was looking for the ballpark cost, how much therapy and where. I followed his instructions and the following day Jared called me to tell me his foundation would fund hope. I teared up as I called my wife and then my mother. This man who I have known not more then week was going to change my daughter life forever and the kindness of his foundation puzzle pieces squared is unmatched to any thing I have ever experienced. The generosity to help my little girl in her struggle through life was beyond touching! Puzzle pieces squared your amazing ! We love you
Puzzle Pieces Squared,
I am sitting in front of the computer still trying to put words together. I received a phone call from Jared on Friday….and it is now Tuesday. We have been trying to get ABA services for our boys for some time and it is quite expensive. And Jared called to tell us that Puzzle Pieces Squared wanted to help us. I was surprised to hear that they were able to help.
We have 3 beautiful children and 2 of them are diagnosed with Autism and one of them is losing his sight. With trying to come up with the money for Aiden and Jackson’s ABA therapy, it has been tough. When our boys were diagnosed Autistic 4 years, at times we heard: “well, they are too smart to be autistic.” “Sometimes it’s better if they were stupid, you would actually get services.” Both of our boys were diagnosed 8 months apart….Aiden is 8,Autistic and epileptic, Jackson is 6, Autistic and visually impaired. When you around our boys they are energetic and always wanting to learn something new. We don’t know how much longer Jackson will continue to have his sight. But thank you to Jared and Puzzle Pieces Squared we will be able to make memories with our family for a little while longer.
Jasen, Christy, Gianna, Aiden and Jackson Mitchell
Dear Jared, Trish, Brendan, Jacob & Spencer,
Thank you for being such caring people and starting this amazing organization. The most important thing you can do for families is let them know people care; that they are not alone. You have created a much needed community in our area and we are so grateful for it.
Our son Jude has high functioning Autism. We have found ourselves in a bit of a limbo trying to get him services. He never fit in with the regular ed classes in school due to his behavior issues and the inclusion classes were too slow for him. As far as services, he didn’t qualify for financial aid as he wasn’t “Autistic enough” and even though our middle class family was struggling financially, we weren’t at the bottom percent to receive aid.
A few months before we were finally scheduled for Jude’s Autism screening he was hospitalized with Kawasaki disease for a week. This is a life long illness comes with a lot of expense, which made getting services even harder for us. Because of the disease Jude is left with 2 large coronary aneurysms, making is scary to prescribe any medication to help him with his Autism. So we are at a point where we have no money for services and no option for medications.
We contacted an ABA Therapy organization as we were desperate and thought we would be able to swing the costs. Unfortunately, our insurance covered little. Thanks to Puzzle Pieces Squared and Jared we are able to pay for those services and look to a brighter future for our son. We don’t have to worry about where we will get the money, we can focus on taking him hiking and doing the things that will make memories for him and us as a family.
So thank you again to this wonderful family that created an organization who truly understands and cares about others. We don’t feel so alone anymore.
The Graham Family
Shawn, Jenny, Jude and Zoey
Jared and his family are just wonderful and compassionate people. His whole committee are truly caring people. Puzzle Piece Squared helped to pay for my son’s therapy. We are so grateful to have come across his amazing non profit organization that helps local special needs parents like us to pay for therapies that otherwise aren’t covered by our insurance. We’ve been walking this road for three years now and it has been hard to find people who really “get it” like Jared and the great people in his committee who worked along with him to make this happen.
- Bill and Ada Gong
Jared, Trish and friends,
I come from a different world than many who have left testimonials on this site. I am a teacher and Autism support is my chosen field. It is my passion. And while I have taken the journey to become a special educator, with all of the trials and tribulations involved in the process, I don't live with Autism 24 hours a day. I have the opportunity to clock out, and leave work at work. My hope is that when I end each day I have provided the students in my class with the academic, behavioral and functional skills that will make life outside of the classroom a bit easier for each child and their families.
This school year has come with a lot of changes for me, both personally and professionally. I had my twin boys and I also began a new position as an Autism support teacher for the Cherry Hill school district. I work with a wonderful group of people, but the Autism support department is in its infancy and we are still developing the services that our students require. After working in the private sector it was new to me to hold a fundraiser in order to have the funding for basic supports for our students. Indeed, some programming still remains out of reach for all of our students.
CBI or Community based Instruction is an integral part of the generalization process for students to learn skills in the classroom and then show that they are able to use the skills that they have acquired across multiple settings. For some students these skills are academic and involve generating and sticking to a budget. For other students these are behavioral needs such as ordering from a menu in the absence of preferred items, or sitting for the duration of the meal. Our classes have been travelling to CBI using public transit, but the process takes a lot of time and energy from classroom teachers to organize and execute. In addition, students who are engaging in problem behavior in the community do not have a safe place to decompress or escape from a place that is causing anxiety and problem behaviors. This process has been prohibitive for some students who do not yet have the flexibility to wait for a bus in the community, and therefore have missed out on the opportunity to attend community outings. For successful CBI’s that are accessible to all students a private bus service is currently required, but our budget does not allow for this accommodation at the time.
I was connected to Puzzle Pieces Squared through a parent in my class who has also received assistance fromthe organization. I was awed that Jared and Trish were so quick to help and wasted no time in making a decision and supplying our program with the funding required for our community based instruction for the next school year. Their contribution will have a very positive effect on the students in our program and we are immensely grateful for their assistance in helping our Autism program grow!
Puzzle Pieces Squared is unlike other Autism support organizations. They work right here in our local communities and you are able to see the effects that their support has on families and schools in your community. I am so grateful for the generosity, kindness and support that was provided to my program though Puzzle Pieces Squared. They are an important resource for local families and they are providing supports that aren’t offered by other organizations to quickly and effectively provide supports where our children need them most!
Thanks Puzzle Pieces Squared!
First, I would like to say thank you! You truly have no idea how appreciative we are for your help in covering some of the costs for Colin’s ABA therapies.
Colin is a very energetic & happy 4 year old who is diagnosed with Autism. He is speech delayed & only started saying words about a year ago & still has trouble with simple sentences. He has come such a long way since starting school in September of 2016 but we are now having a problem transferring things he does at school to home. Being able to hire an ABA therapist to come to our home & help with everyday living situations has been such a life saver for our family! This wouldn’t be possible without your amazing organization!
Saying thank you will never be enough!
The Malloy Family
Puzzle Pieces Squared,
It took me a few days to figure out what exactly to write. I didn’t want to write to much or too little, I didn’t want anyone to feel my story was never ending.
Let me introduce you to our family. Im Jaime, my son Ronnie is 9 years old. My husband (Ronnie’s Step-dad) and I have been together since my son was 3. Ronnie is why I am alive today. I tell him he saved my life when he was born and we didn’t even know it.
I always knew my son was special from the time he was born. My pregnancy was pretty easy but my delivery was not. When Ronnie was 19months old I was diagnosed with Breast Cancer. Because I tried to breast feed him and because of the production of hormones, I found the lump. After a failing marriage for way to many reasons, me battling cancer, and my son was not given a great hand at such a young age, I decided to pack us up and leave our home.
I left with what I could fit in my parents truck and my own. We didn’t take everything just what I knew we needed. I started over. When I started over and Chris and I started dating Ronnie started to become very aggressive and physical. It was a side of him I have never seen. We reached out to perform care and have been with them for several years now. Im not sure they are truly helping but it cant hurt having extra support. I always struggled getting docs to help me when Ronnie was little. But because he was so young most doctors pushed me away and said wait until he is in school and come back. But the truth of the matter is things were bad. So bad at the age of 3 I was scared of my child.
Finally at the age of 5 we had a diagnosis. But I was not feeling confident in what we were told. So for a few years I dealt with what we were told and tried medications and struggled daily. Things started to get worse October of 2016. I never knew the next 4 months my life was going to be turned upside down. My son at the age of 7 was having auditory hallucinations and suicidal thoughts and ideations. He had several minor attempts but because he was by my side 24/7 he was safe. He was in an outpatient facility for several months and even they felt his initial diagnosis was wrong. Go figure.
Finally after 8 month wait we had more evaluations. We found out my son has Autism. But that’s not it. We had so many evaluations thru Children’s Specialized Hospital it was incredible. But they listened and watch me pour my heart out in their office begging them to please just please help me to help my son.
So here we are a family of 3 with a child with: Autism, Auditory processing disorder, dyslexia, dysgraphia, ODD, ADHD, OCD, Mood Disruptive Dysregulation disorder, Anxiety, Depression. My son after a 6 month fight with out school district is now showing slow progress in an out of district school. We have just recently started ABA therapy.
But something is missing from his life. Ronnie loves to be in the wild as he calls it and the saddest part is he knows that he is different from other kids and it just kills me. Ronnie has always wanted to go to the wild for summer camp but summer camps are just so expensive. So these past few years we have just tried to distract him from the thoughts. But this year was different. An old friend posted about Puzzle Pieces Squared accepting applications for families to help. Anyone who knows me knows I don’t talk about my pain and struggles with having a special needs son, but I don’t know I felt I needed to share a little to help my son. Within less then 30 minutes my phone rang. I didn’t know the number but I picked it up anyway. On the other end was this enthusiastic, energetic, educated fantastic representative/founder of Puzzle Pieces Squared Jared. Jared spent time with me on the phone explaining how Puzzle Pieces Squared foundation works and what he does and why he does it. Our conversation went on for a while. He asked me to think of a few ideas of things for our son. Well the first one of course was camp. Was there a way I could get him to the wild this summer? Okay so that was one. But my little guy doesn’t have anything he really likes besides racing and playing in the dirt. But a long time ago Ronnie talked about having his own tree house. My husband and I are both very handy but how in the world could we do this that is would be safe for him. Well you guessed it here was my number 2. I sent Jared a second email with both my ideas and he said Camp, call them its done. I cried. I cried and I could not believe this stranger, this dad on the other end of the phone is helping us get our son to the wild. Tree house, well he said it may take some work and he was willing to work on it and figure it out but he said lets do it.
How can I explain the feelings running thru my mind and my heart. I am in complete and utter shock. This man my family has never met but from one simple email he is making such an impact on my sons life.
Jared and Puzzle Pieces Squared Supporters and Family, thank you. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. My husband and I are forever grateful for your kindness, generosity, caring and overall support for our son. We cant wait to share pictures of him getting on the bus for camp and even him in the wild. We know the tree house is a work in progress and well this one Ronnie doesn’t even know of yet. Its still a secret.
Please know you all have a special place in my heart for all of the lives you are changing one family at a time. I am honored for us to be a P2 family.
The Trabbold Family
Chris, Jaime and Ronnie
Dear Jared & Trish!!!
Hi, my name is Melissa Mullin and I am new to Puzzle Pieces Squared 🙂 . I am writing this firstly to introduce myself and also to share my story, in hopes of helping other families and parents of special needs children who may be struggling in one way or another.
I hope that by writing this I am able help others like myself gain perspective on their unique situation, and to hopefully help them feel empowered and united through the sharing of my story. I’d also like to educate families about the Puzzle Pieces Squared foundation, by the telling of my own personal experiences and by sharing my journey; including the events leading up to my introduction to Puzzle Pieces Squared.
I am a thirty three year old single mother of two amazing kids, a little boy and little girl ages twelve and five. The oldest of my two children is my daughter, her name is Isabella and the five year old is my son and his name is Jax.
Not that long ago our lives were turned completely upside down. In the beginning of October, 2015 my husband (and best friend )was diagnosed with a very aggressive and rare form of cancer. Sadly, after a terribly difficult and horrific battle with this disease, my husband passed away. I can not begin to explain the many levels of pain and grief that my children and I have had to and still continue to endure.
Prior to my husband’s diagnosis, we had our son Jax enrolled in the local Early Intervention program. Due to his age and other developmental issues, we hadn’t yet received a definitive diagnosis of Autism from a developmental pediatrician. However, after my husband and I did a ton of our own research we knew without question that our son was indeed Autistic. Ironically, our son’s diagnosis was given to us , just one week before my husband received his diagnosis of cancer (Acute lymphoblastic Leukemia and lymphoma).
To say that this was a difficult time for us would be a gross understatement. Our lives were devastated. With no insurance for myself or my husband at the time of his diagnosis, we endured tremendous financial issues one after another and faced many obstacles with our son as well.
We went from Living a simple, peaceful, comfortable life, to living in complete chaos sadness and fear. We lost our beautiful home, the business we owned, our vehicles and so much more. Due to our financial difficulties (which were a direct result of my husbands treatment exspences etc..) We were forced to move and leave our home, dreams, and the life that we had worked so hard for, behind. This was monumentally devastating to all of us.
After my husband passed away on May 4th 2017 I was catapulted into a life that was foreign and utterly terrifying to me.
Now having lost the love of my life, best friend, partner and sole provider of our family, I was forced to navigate through this life alone and with two small grieving children ; one of which being special needs.
My son Jax, in addition to being Autistic also has sensory processing disorder, ADD, ADHD, Auditory processing disorder, and many other cognitive, physical and developmental delays across the board. I do not have a support system as my husband was my only real family.
In the wake of my husbands passing I began to struggle and sink into the depths of depression. I felt alone, lost, defeated, and unequipped to manage life.
My sons negative behaviors had surged due to all of the changes in our lives and for which I felt helpless. His self-injurious behavior had peeked and was terrifying to watch. He also began to hit my daughter who would try to help out when she saw that I was overwhelmed. My daughter was having an extremely difficult time coping with the passing of her father, and sadly my sons behaviors only added to that.
My tiny family was all out of sorts and I secretly struggled with feelings of inadequacy as a parent and utter loneliness. Things were spiraling out of control and No matter what lengths I went to while trying to be the best mother I could , I just never felt like it was enough.
One night after a really tough day with my son, I sat in the living room of my house staring at my wedding photo. I wept and began to beg my husband for help. Help with my finances, help finding the right words to comfort our grieving daughter, help to gain more insight and to acquire the tools and methods I needed ,to give our son the best life possible for him. I was overwhelmed and feeling lost, lonely and defeated as per the usual. Then I received a phone call, it was my mother - law. Now thankfully my mother in -law and I have a wonderful relationship. As I explained before, I do not have a close family or a tight knit group of friends to lean on for support. Not their fault at all! I do have many loving and dependable friends however due to my sons special needs I experienced a wide range of strange emotions over the years; which ultimately kept us home and in my mind safe from the judging eyes and tactless comments of others. In doing this I thought I was protecting us, however I was actually putting a strain on once very solid relationships.
Now back to my relationship with my mother in-law. Since the passing of my husband, my mother in-law has stepped up in ways that are insurmountable! She has been my mentor, friend, shoulder to cry on and so much more. I do not know where I would be at this point in my life if it weren’t for her.
Even though my mother in-law is essentially a super hero in my mind, I work very diligently toward refraining from overwhelming her. This is a woman who just lost her baby boy and is too still grieving. She and my father in-law also own a business, properties, etc... so as you can imagine, her plate is quite full as well.
Anyway, during this particular phone conversation with her, she told me about a group that she found that she thought would be able to help my family and give us the support we so desperately needed to move forward and not feel so alone. She told me that she had contacted the founder of a group called “Puzzle Pieces Squared “and that she thought that this man Jared Silverstein, could offer me the help I needed in moving forward as the parent of a special needs child. So after speaking with my mother in-law ; though she was adamant about her belief that this foundation could really help us, I honestly began to doubt that anyone (including Jared) could help my situation or change my feelings of being alone. However, I figured it couldn’t hurt to give it a shot and reach out to him.
I wrote a brief letter to Jared explaining to him my situation and giving him a brief sonopzsis of how my struggling family got to where we are today. I explained to him that due to my current financial situation, I was not able to provide my special needs son with some of the tools that I thought he needed in order to continue to grow and make gains in his overall development, as an Autistic little boy. Unexpectedly I received a call from Jared within hours of my sending him my letter!
Jared was one of the most insightful, kind and understanding people that I had spoken to thus far in my journey as a special needs parent. He explained to me all about his foundation and how he founded it. He was polite and understanding. He listened to me and was genuinely sympathetic to my struggles. And during this phone conversation something magical happened, I didn’t feel so alone anymore! Jared opened up a door for my family that otherwise I don’t think I could have opened on my own. He made me feel validated and gave me hope for the future. He has connected me to a group of people like myself, who have had similar struggles and In doing so he has essentially given me the support system that I previously didn’t have.
During this phone conversation Jared assured me that my son would get the things he needed to help aid him in his growth and development. He gave me piece of mind and a helping hand. A helping hand that we as parents all need at some point in our lives. While speaking with Jared it became apparent to me that this was my husbands work. I truly believe that my husband, who in his life never let me down and was an amazing advocate for our son; was connecting me to this foundation. It may seem silly to some but the belief that my husband was watching over us and connecting me with a foundation that could tremendously help me, made me feel even more at ease.
I am very new to Puzzle Pieces Squared but I am excited to connect with like minded people who I may be able to help or who may be able to help me in some way. Being a parent is one of the hardest jobs in the world and being a parent of a special needs child, is by all accounts exponentially harder. I look forward to learning more about Puzzle Pieces Squared and gaining confidence by connecting with other parents. For the first time in what feels like forever, I can honestly say that I have hope for both my family and my sons future. Thank you so much to Jared Silverstein and everyone involved with Puzzle Pieces Squared , for giving me a platform to share my story and connect with people. I am grateful beyond words for the kindness and generosity extended to my family. My only wish at this point is to be able to pay it forward.
For anyone who may read this; Sometimes just finding out that you’re not alone can be the perfect tool for gaining the courage to unlock doors that you never dreamed would open.
Thank you for your time,
One empowered parent,
Dear Jared & Trish!!!
There aren't enough words to say how grateful my husband & I are for your foundation!!
The funds you granted us have allowed us to replace Bekah's treadmill & touchscreen computer both of which have been broken for quite some time.
Your Foundation has also donated a "Weighted Blanket " which We're hoping will help with Bekah's anxiety during the night.
There are plenty of Foundations that raise money for Autism & it's research but the fact that you raise money & choose to use that money to help LOCAL families is what makes you & your foundation the best!!
Again, there aren't enough words to Thank you for what you've done but please know we are truly grateful for everything you've done for our girl!!
Nicki, Jack & of course if Bekah could Thank You she would too!
Dear Jared and Trish,
I want to express my gratitude for the gift that Jared,Trish,and Puzzle Pieces Squared bestowed on my son.Jacob was gifted a beautiful top of the line iPad with amazing apps,such as a communication device and ways to do a lot of things that he was never able to do before.
I thought he would communicate a little more with the device but was not prepared for what happened in the two months since he received it.This is ,in my mind and that of our families ,a complete MIRACLE,I am in no way exaggerating either. Jacob used to love tv,almost too much and didn't seem like he was learning much from it after school times.
Since receiving this ,he no longer watches tv,at all.This in itself is amazing ,since he loved it since 3 years old. Now he found ,all on his own mind you,music.He listens to it all of the time now when not in school.I was blown away at what music did for him in such a short time too.With autism comes meltdowns, which unfortunately are part of this disorder.Jacob was having them quite frequently. Now he found a station with classical music that he puts on if he feels a meltdown coming on.This is absolutely incredible.They have been cut down more than half in just this two months.
Another wonderful thing happening is that the music he is listening to is showing me how he feels,which he could never express before.He goes to the page ,finds the lyrics and hums along to the ones that show how he us feeling at that moment. He also ,when he hums to songs ,changes the pitch in his voice which was very monotone before.He is,in his own way,signing along with the song.The first time I saw and heard him do this ,words cannot describe how I felt.But I did feel like I was witnessing a miracle.
Jacob also this past weekend said dad over and over,enunciating each syllable. I said it after him ,and Jacob actually mimicked me saying dad,then Dada then daddy.He gas NEVER mimicked me saying anything ever in his 14 years.Needless to say,not hearing your child ralk for 12 and a half years then hearing him start to mimic and say a word us beyond unbelievable and extraordinary. I have to say I almost fainted,This was not a one time occurrence. Jacob has been doing this at home every single day now. I never fully gave up hope he would talk again ,but after 12 years and speech therapy at school you do begin to doubt it will happen.But thanks to this amazing device, his new love for music,and the selfless family of Jared and Trish Silverstein,a long with their foundation Puzzle Pieces Squared I not only have hope he will talk again but KNOW he will,just a matter of time now.
This is absolutely incredible and such a blessing .God Bless you Jared and Trish and PP squared,you have actually given my son a new life and me hope which is priceless and surpassed all dreams I had for him.Sky is the limit for my Jacob now..Miracles DO happen, and Jacob is living proof of that.Jared,n Trish are living proof that people care and can make a difference one family at a time.
Forever in our hearts,
love Jacob and Kim Mason
Dear Jared and Trish,
To say we are Grateful for your Amazing Generosity for my son Marshall is truly an Understatement. Because of all of you Marshall has flourished this past Summer above our Expectations!
The Trampoline has been such a beneficial piece of his Sensory Diet and the Behavioral Therapy he received the entire Summer has enabled him to Soar Leaps and Bounds providing him structure and consistency that we would never have been able to implement!
So again, Thank you each and every one of you for your hearts of Gold for not only Marshall but for all of our kids!
To the Sun and Back we Love you!
Dear Jared and Trish,
I cannot even begin to explain my gratitude for the incredibly generous donation of iPads and a communication app to my Autistic Support Classroom. Throughout the school year my nonverbal students struggled to communicate their needs to others. These iPads will help my students communicate with me, their friends and other adults. This will open doors to a language barrier that they had to deal with most of their lives. Puzzle Pieces Squared has changed my classroom and the lives of my students. The impact that this will have on my students is overwhelming. I am so thankful for the generosity of this organization. I cannot thank you enough for this wonderful donation.
Dear Puzzle Pieces Squared,
We are so tremendously grateful for your helping meeting our son’s needs this summer! Ian, who is about to turn 11, will benefit so much from your kindness and generosity!
When Ian was diagnosed as a preschooler, we had no idea how much our lives would change. He has made such incredible progress, but like so many kids on the autism spectrum, his learning happens at its own pace. So having a special needs swim program—where he can take the time he needs to master swim and movement skills–is critical to helping him be safe around water. It is such a blessing that you were able to help us pay for that program this summer.
And the new iPad…oh my goodness! When we applied for help from your foundation, we had hoped for aid with the swim program. But to know that he’ll also benefit from having new assistive technology is so great! Ian has been using an iPad for a couple of years now. We use it as a transitional tool, an educational tool, and an incentive for him in his work. (I think he may even be more tech savvy than my husband and I!) His old device was on its last legs…functioning slowly, and limited in its ability to update because of small memory space. I can’t wait to see the look on his face when he opens up the new one!
But your generosity went even further! By helping us afford respite care this summer, it means that I can continue to work even when school is not in session. Finding reliable caregivers who are knowledgeable of his autism-specific needs is always a challenge, and an expensive proposition. Because of the grant our family is receiving, we feel confident that we will be able to provide the level of care that he needs to be happy and safe. Words simply cannot express our gratitude.
Ian is such a happy, quirky, lovable kid. He adores Star Wars and Marvel super heroes, traveling to new places, and putting together Legos. He’s an amazing big brother to his little sister Jillian, and loves to giggle and be silly with his family. In the end, what you’re giving us is piece of mind, and a greater ability for Ian to just be Ian. Thank you, thank you, thank you.
With much joy,
The Kobb Family
Meggie, Alan, Ian & Jillian
||WOODBURY CITY PUBLIC SCHOOLS
A Leader in Personalizing Education
Dear Jared and Trish,
Thank you so much for supplying iPads to a deserving family in our district. The iPads will help the children maintain academic skills, a continuum of services, and behavior modification strategies. In the classroom iPads were used to facilitate effective verbal communication, as well as to teach specific skills such as following directions, expanding vocabulary, inferencing, using positional words and pronouns, and writing letters of the alphabet. Our district, as well as the family, appreciates your generous donation. Please know that these devices will be extremely useful in supporting academic and social-emotional growth in two wonderful children.
PSD Teacher Jamie Jackowski, SLP
Dear Jared & Trish Silverstein,
Thank you very much for the grant that you graciously decided to give to my son Nicholas to attend wonderful summer camp at Camp Sun n Fun. Your kindness is overwhelming, but so much appreciated. Without the grant Nicholas would have to go without those extra curricular activities that are desperately needed to increase his socialization skills, and independence. It is not always easy to provide these things to Nicholas because of our family’s household finances. It is good to know that there are people who have a heart to care and desire to help.You have a wonderful organization. We are so blessed. Again on behalf of Nicholas and my family thank you so very much.
Dear Jared and Trish,
We are so blessed by Puzzle Pieces Squared who is willing to provide the opportunity for my son Luke to participate in a cooking class at Sur La Table. This class will help Luke with the life skills and social development skills he needs. I was so excited to learn that there are good people out there willing to help children with special needs. Puzzle Pieces Squared is a wonderful organization and is a blessing to Luke and my family. Thank you so much for all that you have done for Luke and my family.
Thank you again,