Here is an article about clients of mine (Tom & Stacey Marazzo) with their son Riley and his daily battle with Autism. This article was recently published in the St. Catharines Standard.



Stacey Marazzo and her sister Niki Moore are hoping to raise funds to help Stacey’s son Riley with his treatment for autism. Niki sells jewelry made by Stacey at her In Touch day spa in Virgil.

Penny Coles
Local Features – Saturday, November 03, 2007 Updated @ 4:58:31 PM

Niki Moore has successfully created an elegant, tranquil atmosphere at her In Touch Day Spa in Virgil, and the jewelry she displays, also elegant, seems like a natural extension of a business with an intended goal of pampering its clients.

The story behind the jewelry, however, has nothing to do with pampering, but is instead a story of a mother’s attempt to help her very special little boy.

Niki’s sister Stacey Marazzo and Stacey’s husband Tom have an adorable and active toddler, now 17 months old, named Riley. On the go constantly, Riley seems like any normal, healthy and busy little boy, but he has had a difficult start to life, and faces more problems in the future.

At just two days old, he was rushed by ambulance to the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto, where he was diagnosed with a number of life-threatening heart defects.

After enduring many painful tests, procedures, heart failure and open heart surgery by the age of eight months, he continues to require ongoing medical appointments to monitor his condition while he waits for the second stage of his “repair”.

Between the ages of two and four years, Riley will undergo another open heart surgery. Although his heart will never be fixed, his parents hope he will continue to do well for many years, but eventually, he may need a heart transplant, says Stacey.

Because of his health problems, they never leave him with babysitters—anybody who cares for him would require CPR training,know the signs of heart failure and what to do in the case of an emergency—and that’s just too much to put on someone else, says Stacey. With Tom in the Canadian Armed Forces and away for long stretches of time, Stacey faces all the challenges of a single mom, and then some.

Because while she was watching Riley go through the trauma of treatment for his heart defect, she noticed something else that concerned her. He was taking a little longer than normal to learn how to crawl, but that was to be expected—she had been warned to expect some developmental delays—but she found he was also not responding to his name, wasn’t smiling, wasn’t making eye contact, and was displaying repetitive behaviours that are symptoms of autism.

At first her worries were dismissed by her pediatrician, but an assessment by a developmental specialist confirmed her fears. Riley, in addition to all his physical health challenges, has autism.

Stacey’s premonitions at least led to an early diagnosis, but at this stage, that isn’t proving to be the benefit to Riley that is should be.

Stacey and Tom have been told that early intervention would give their son a fighting chance at a “normal” life, but they are slowly finding he is too young for many of the typical types of therapy provided for autistic children, and it may be two years or more before he can start the intensive treatment he needs.

In the meantime, Stacey hopes to be able to travel to Massachusetts for the training she needs to begin to work with Riley using the Son Rise treatment program, a program designed specifically to help children with autism progress to their full potential.

Hence the jewelry, which Stacey makes when Riley sleeps. It is an escape for her from her worries, an opportunity to take her mind off what has become an almost constant struggle, and by selling it through In Touch, is a source of fundraising for the expensive treatment he needs.

In addition, Niki is turning to the NOTL community to ask for help. She is hoping a local organization might offer a location free of charge to hold a fundraiser for her nephew, “a one-of-a-kind, very special little boy.”

The money will be used to finance Stacey’s Son Rise training in Massachusetts, which she hopes to attend in February.

The event is scheduled Jan. 19, although they don’t yet have a venue, and anyone interested in helping Niki can email her at or call 905-468-2391.

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