Changing Lives on and off the field
When not patrolling the middle infield at the PETCO Park in San Diego, CA, making a brilliant catch or in the middle of a stream reeling in the big one, the San Diego Padres second baseman Orlando Hudson lives to make C.A.T.C.H. a reality.
C.A.T.C.H. (Curing Autism Through Change and Hope) is a non-profit foundation established by Hudson in January 2008 to enable children with autism to enjoy a normal life through the funding of outlets for proper therapy, education, and extracurricular activities. Through its grants to schools and other non-profit organizations that support the fight against autism, the foundation is building a strong force to defeat the growing developmental disorder.
Orlando always knew that he wanted to be a major league baseball player growing up, but he never imagined that his heart would also lead him to become an advocate and spokesperson to fight autism. Hudson’s passion for working with autistic children started as a youth growing up in South Carolina. Orlando told his mom that if one day God saw fit for him to make it to the major leagues and make some money that he wanted to help autistic children because he felt they were getting shoved to the side. Along with that a cousin was born with autism, and Hudson saw firsthand the challenges a child and family face with when dealing with ASDs (autism spectrum disorders). From then, Orlando began to volunteer in to help children with autism. He furthered his interaction when he was in the minor leagues when he would substitute teach to earn some extra money and give back to the students in his community during the off season. This is when he really saw the problems concerning autistic children in education.
While spending time in the classroom, Orlando saw that the children seemed to sit in a classroom all day without windows. There was some interaction with the teachers and students but not enough for Orlando. Throughout the day, he found that many of the children were autistic. The children enjoyed their time away from the classroom in lunch so much that he noticed a change in them when they returned back to the window-free place of learning. After being called in to substitute in the same class several times, Orlando became attached and knew that he wanted to help the children feel just like the other children in the school.
Two years later, Orlando was called to the big leagues and knew that with the money he wanted to help the autistic children in Darlington and abroad to have a school experience like that of all children that incorporates the proper tools for learning and therapy. Annually, Orlando has a charity basketball game in Darlington that supports autistic children in the county. The game is named after three students that touched and continue to touch his heart dearly – Mary, Brittany and Matthew – The MBM Basketball Classic. The money goes directly to the special education department in Darlington County to help the children to enjoy fieldtrips and receive all of the therapeutic attention they need.
After seeing that autism was not only a problem in his home town, but one of the entire U.S., Orlando saw that it was time to make a difference abroad and thus founding CATCH. The numbers of children with autism is increasing at a vast rate and CATCH wants to be a foundation that helps to put a halt in the rise of the disorder.
The Best Intervention is Early Intervention – Knowing the Signs
Autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) are most often diagnosed between the ages of 18 months and 3 years. Studies indicate that autism is four times more likely to affect boys than girls. There is also an increased risk if a sibling has been diagnosed with autism.
Possible indicators, according to the National Institute of Mental Health, include:
- Does not babble, point, or make meaningful gestures by 1 year of age
- Does not speak one word by 16 months
- Does not combine two words by 2 years
- Does not respond to name
- Loses language or social skills
Some other possible indicators:
- Doesn’t play with toys appropriately
- Excessively lines up toys or other objects
- Is attached to one particular toy or object
- No pointing or showing (SAARC, 2008)
If you feel that your child exhibits signs of autism please go to www.autismcenter.org for evaluation and diagnosis information along with treatment and intervention suggestions. For more facts and information about autism you may also visit www.autismspeaks.org. The earlier a child is diagnosed and treated, the better he/she can enjoy life.