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Sue and Mike Milos

Our Story


Hi everybody,​

Thank you for visiting our page.  I want to tell you a little about The Autistic Resilience Network, the annual Sue Milos Joy Program we run, and why we hope you'll join us in our mission of supporting individuals with autism and related conditions by meeting their unique needs and empowering their resilience.

​I've been serving the autistic community for a long time. One thing that breaks my heart is the number of autistic people who have adjusted to being in a lot of emotional and physical distress on an ongoing basis. It's simply become their baseline.  I see people in significant need and it never occurs to them to ask for help.  ​

Why don't they ask for help?  First, they often had experienced a lot of social rejection simply existing in the world.  The idea that someone would help them seemed far-fetched.  Second, autism often means isolation, and they often didn't have many people in their social world to ask for help.  Finally, what they needed help with were often unique things that others might not understand the importance of. 

You'll see an example of a uniquely autistic need this year in our recipient list.  Recipient #5, E., is asking for privacy.  She gave the bedrooms in the house to her mom with dementia and her two sons, and she sleeps in the living room.  She needs a room of her own, and asked if we could help turn the living room into a private space.  What agency are you going to reach out to and say "please help me have a little privacy?" As an autistic person myself, I absolutely understand the need for us to have a space to ourselves to calm down and reset.  While most everyone values  having a space to themselves, for autistic people it's a critical need.


I love the autistic community that I'm so proud to be part of, and autism can bring with it some beautiful gifts. Autistic people are known for their integrity, dedication to social justice, and - contrary to stereotypes - are often extremely empathetic. However, for many reasons, autism isn't an easy road.  Living in a world that often doesn't accept or value autistic people means isolation, unemployment, financial stress, and even a shortened life expectancy.  The average age of death for autistic people with a cognitive disability is 39; without a cognitive disability, the average age of death is 58. 

Part of the reason for early mortality is the high numbers of suicides in our community.  As I write this, I sit with the knowledge that just last night an autistic person I knew took their own life.  The suicide rate in the autistic community is nine times higher than in the non-autistic community.

In 2021 I started trying to meet some of the practical needs of our autistic community members.  I couldn't afford to do so alone, so I'd work with someone in need and we'd write up a brief story to share.  I'd share their story with the community, and people would help.  One story was about some kids who'd just gotten a bunk bed, and they needed sheets. A kind donor agreed to get them sheets, but when the packages showed up, they weren't just sheets - they were fun sheets for kids, targeted to the kid's special interests, and there were blankets and pillows, too.

There were lots of other things.  A back-up camera for a teenager learning to drive.  An iPad with assistive technology and an adaptive keyboard for an autistic senior who was blind.  Once, a couple month's salary for an autistic college student on scholarship who was really struggling working in a loud coffee shop while also taking a heavy load of classes and volunteering at a research lab. She was able to quite the coffee shop, find a better job option, graduated, and is now working full-time serving the autistic community herself. You can read about another one of our past recipients, Anastazia, here.


Over and over, I saw that the right help, at the right time, provided with kindness and respect, could make a huge difference in someone's life.  Over and over, I also saw that the people who helped were so happy to be part of it. 
Besides the practical support, it means a lot to autistic community members to see that they are truly cared about, valued, and supported.

One of our donors, Sue Milos, always checked in at the end of the program and asked me if there was anyone else who needed help.  She'd pitch in extra funds to help make sure everyone received support.  She used to teach autistic students and the autistic community had a special place in her heart.  ​

Sue passed suddenly early in 2023 of an aggressive cancer.  I'd never met her in person, only connected with her online when I was digging into some family history.  We were distant cousins and we built a friendship over genealogy and helping others. The first and last time I ever talked to her in person was in her hospice room, and she passed soon after.  Her immediate family kindly allowed me that time with her, despite their own unimaginable pain and grief.​

This year that small side project has become The Autistic Resilience Network, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit.  Every holiday season we look forward to running the Sue Milos Joy Program, in which we honor her memory by connecting autistic community members with those in the community who are looking for a way to reach out to someone else.

Thank you for being here.  Thank you for caring.  In a world of sometimes overwhelming problems, the asks from our recipients are problems we can actually solve.  ​
In gratitude,

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