Lytles Help Autism Kids In Name Of Lost Son

SPOKANE — Many parents might assume that if their child is diagnosed with a developmental disorder like autism, insurance would cover the cost of therapy. But more and more families with autistic children are finding that’s not the case.

Insurance covers just a small percentage of the recommended treatment, leaving parents looking to heaven above for answers.

For some, an autistic spokane boy has become their angel giving their children the therapy they need.

Reed and Holly Lytle described their four-year-old son, Isaac, and three-year-old son Tyler as two peas in a pod. They were best friends.

“They were just inseperable,” Reed says.

Though he was the younger of the two, Tyler was the dominant one, the protector of his older brother, Isaac, who doctors diagnosed with autism when he was 18-months-old. Reed and Holly say that diagnosis was hard to bear.

The news grew even more dim when the Lytles found out Isaac would need 30 hours of therapy a week, but that insurance would cover only about one hour per week.

“I was hysterical,” Holly says. “I cried and I cried and I cried, because that was financially devastating to our family when you start crunching numbers.”

The Lytles looked for other ways to help Isaac. Holly even began working from home so that she could provide some treatment herself. The family converted parts of their house into play areas for therapy, building a swing and using an exercise ball to help Isaac build core muscles and even help with speech.

But just as Isaac was making progress, days after he’d learned to say “Love ya”, he passed away in his sleep from an unrelated heart defect.

“I don’t know that you can describe what it’s like to be sitting there and having a grown fireman kneeling next to you, apologizing that they couldn’t save your child,” says Holly.

His death left little Tyler wondering what happened to his big brother.

“We told Tyler that God needed Isaac,” says Reed. “He had some work for him to do and that someday we would all see him again.”

“For whatever reason, Tyler will just burst into tears and if you ask him what’s wrong, he’ll say he misses his Isaac,” Holly says, “and that is probably one of the hardest moments as a mother.”

But Reed says every second of time and penny of money spent on Isaac’s rehab was worth hearing him say “love you”.

“To hear your child say that when they’ve been essentially non-verbal for that month or so before he died, I’d pay anything,” he says.

So now, the family has turned their grief and their love for their son into something positive. In his memory, the Lytles have created The Isaac Foundation, a non-profit dedicated to giving local kids with autism the therapy help they need.

One year after being incorporated, The Isaac Foundation has raised $40,000 from local businesses and private donors and has awarded 18 therapy grants, one of which went to three-year-old Cole Mortenson.

Cole’s parents say are in the same boat the Lytles were in, getting very little insurance coverage for Cole’s therapy.

“I don’t understand. I really don’t,” says Megan Mortenson, Cole’s mother. “One out of 150 kids have autism, so I don’t understand why they don’t include us.”

Cole’s speech therapist told the Mortensons about The Isaac Foundation. The family applied and the foundation’s grant committee slected Cole as a recipient, paying the bills from his speech provider.

When asked about Holly Lytle, Megan Mortenson gets emotional.

“I want to cry, because they’re on our side,” Megan says. “They care about all of us so much, even though they didn’t know us, and that’s just huge.”

Though the Lytles and Tyler, who’s now four, are still healing from Isaac’s death, they say their happy their angel above is helping bless other little boys just like him.

The Isaac Foundation is hosting Autism Awareness Night at Five Mile Heights Pizza Parlor on Friday night from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Fifteen percent of the proceeds will go to The Isaac Foundation. Tt’s also hosting the second annual Lyn-Tron Golf Classic on Saturday at Downriver Golf Course in Spokane.