When he was 18 months old, Ari Goodman was diagnosed with autism. Today his parents, Clara and Daniel Goodman of East Windsor, are seeking a treatment for their seven-year-old that they hope will heal him “from the inside.”
“He is very low verbal but he is smart,” Clara told NJ Jewish News in a Dec. 29 phone interview. “He understands everything you say to him. He follows directions and he is very aware and with it. But he struggles to say more than one word at a time. His language is very minimal. He has no social abilities, and he is in his own world in terms of friends.”
Although Ari receives special schooling and at-home therapy, his parents are seeking to raise some $15,000 so that he can be treated at the Stem Cell Institute in Central America-Panama. There he will be able to receive stem cell transplants that are not yet approved in the United States.
“He has made some progress, but you can only do so much with therapy from the outside in,” Clara said. “You’ve got to heal from the inside out by figuring out what is going in inside the brain.”
Ari is a grandson of the late Eileen Goodman of Parsippany, a former administrative assistant in the marketing department of what is now the Jewish Federation of Greater MetroWest NJ. She died in 2014.
In 2012, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved a study of umbilical cord blood in patients with autism that is due to be completed this month, but it has not yet approved stem cell treatments for people with autism.
“We don’t want to wait, because our son deserves a life right now,” Clara said. “At his current pace, he will eventually need to be placed in a group home later in his life if he does not make significant progress. We worry every day about who will take care of him when we can’t.”
Those wishing to contribute and receive a tax deduction may send a check to the Goodman family synagogue, Congregation Toras Emes, at 639 Abbington Dr., East Windsor, NJ 08520, or through a website that posts information on his case, gofundme.com/aristemcelljourney.