Working for a Purpose
Getting to know the Founder of the Autism Hope Alliance:
An interview with Tom Bohager
Founder and Director, Autism Hope Alliance
AHA You have recently resigned from Enzymedica and are now taking a more active role at the Autism Hope Alliance. What do you see for the future of AHA?
TB Though I am very proud of the success of Enzymedica, I am so very excited about the future of the Autism Hope Alliance. The need for education, financial assistance and access to trusted quality nutritional products is at an all-time high among those in this community. I see our efforts helping thousands of families to find and have access to such resources. We have received a grant recently that allows us to increase our capacity for these goals without using donated funds and this makes the opportunity to help more families all the more exciting.
“Those unaffected by Autism too need to be educated
on what they can do to support those in need.”
AHA While at Enzymedica, you certainly have helped millions of people in regards to their overall health when it comes to digestion. What lessons will you take that you learned there, that you plan on utilizing at the Autism Hope Alliance?
TB One thing I learned at Enzymedica is that education is the key to success. Though we had very little in the way of a budget to market our products, Enzymedica became the best selling brand in its category. The reason for this was we focused on educating retailers and consumers about the benefits of high potency, high quality products. I believe, what the Autism community needs is access to trustworthy education. This will empower caregivers to make better choices. There’s so much confusion about what alternatives are available to families with autism, and if we can be a provider of such resources, we will make a difference. In addition to distributing nearly 40,000 educational booklets since we began in 2009, we sponsored the Autism Hope Summit in early 2016. People in over 170 countries benefited from that effort and I look forward to even greater success with our second summit in 2017.
Those unaffected by Autism too need to be educated on what they can do to support those in need. I have great confidence in people in general and when the right people understand that a relatively small effort or monetary contribution can do so much good for a family in need, people will step up.
Autism is the fastest-growing serious developmental disability in the U.S.
and more children will be diagnosed with autism this year than with
AIDS, diabetes & cancer combined.
AHA You could have picked any cause in the world to help support, what lead you to Autism?
TB My introduction to Autism came 13 years ago when we discovered that families of children with autism we’re using our products to help with severe digestive issues common among those diagnosed. Since then, I have seen such a dramatic increase in the prevalence of this issue that it is horrifies me. Autism is the fastest-growing serious developmental disability in the U.S. and more children will be diagnosed with autism this year than with AIDS, diabetes & cancer combined. Honestly, these stats alone make the decision to support this cause easy for me. Adding to this is the fact that so few resources are available to assist. There are simple solutions available that can help reduce common symptoms and/or recover children. Yet so few have access to trustworthy, reliable information.
AHA Do you have one story that stands out in regards to Autism that touched your heart?
TB There are many stories that have touched me. But I think I need to go back to the first one. 13 years ago I was introduced to Karen DeFelice. She wrote a book called “Enzymes & Autism”. In that book she described the success that she achieved with easily accessible supplements and a restrictive diet. So moved by the progress her two sons made she decided to tour the country and tell as many parents as possible about what she had learned. When I met Karen I wanted to be apart of the education that she was providing and so began to sponsor all of her events to offset the costs she incurred in her endeavor. Watching the reactions of the families and hearing of their successes first hand inspired me on so many levels.
“We provide guidance in identifying companies that caregivers
can trust while making these high quality products affordable
for those with a financial need.”
AHA With so many non-profits out there, how do you think AHA will stand out?
TB I see us as a mediator between the Autism community and the Natural Foods Community. The Natural Foods Community is uniquely equipped to help families with a diagnosis, but need help communicating their message. The Autism Community needs to better understand the differences between all of the thousands of natural foods companies and identify the best among them. Navigating the millions of marketing messages and claims from the thousands of companies can be overwhelming. That’s where we come in. We provide guidance in identifying companies that caregivers can trust while making these high quality products affordable for those with a financial need. No one is attempting to do this and I am convinced we are the most qualified.
AHA What is your reaction and feelings now that your family has also decided to join forces and help the mission at AHA?
TB My goal has always been to steer my three sons in a direction that will provide a career with a high level of fulfillment and more importantly afford them the time and opportunity to also volunteer to help others less fortunate then our family. As you might imagine, I am incredibly happy to be able to do this with AHA.
AHA For the families out there that feel lost at the moment, what words of encouragement can you give them?
TB There is nothing more powerful than hope so never give it up. Nurture it, cultivate it and don’t let anyone tell you your naive for having it. Wear it like a badge of honor. And finally, it’s never too late to start your journey to recovery.
AHA What are three things you would suggest a family do after they get the diagnosis?
TB 1) Immediately remove gluten and casein from their child’s diet.
2) Read the resource booklet distributed by the Autism Hope Alliance called “Autism – What the Experts Know” and listen to the Autism Hope Summit. Then choose a course based on your personal intuition that will help your child.
3) Never lose sight of the need to replenish, refresh and rejuvenate yourself. Caregivers all too often burn out and lose hope. A way must be found through the assistance of family members, friends and volunteers to continually care for the caregiver.
AHA What final message do you want to leave for families that have individuals with Autism?
TB Surround yourselves with people who will be supportive and inspire hope. Avoid and remove any toxic influence and be open-minded. Sometimes the best solutions come from the most unexpected places.
” It’s never too late to start your journey to recovery.”
This blog is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. We always recommend consulting with your doctor with any questions or beginning a new protocol.