Skip to content

11-year-old Lars is quite the ham once he gets a microphone in his hands, so keep an eye out for him on the Summer Scamper Family Festival stage this year. He’s a smart, kind young man who loves playing Sumdog (an adaptive learning math game), making lists, and playing with Lego men.

He also has a really strong affinity for his doctor, Kirsten Willar, PhD, clinical instructor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences (child and adolescent psychiatry) at Stanford University School of Medicine and the Stanford Autism Center.

“Dr. Willar is Lars’ favorite care provider, hands down, no competition. Dr. Willar is the winner!” says Lars’ mom, Sarah. “Everything about Dr. Willar: her demeanor, her voice, her honest disposition, her creativity, and the controlled and supportive clinical environment she has created for her patients makes it possible to effectively tackle hard issues. Her success is demonstrated in Lars’ ability to walk out of a session with his shoulders straight and his head held high because he has been led to understand that he CAN do hard things and be okay afterward.”

The Stanford Autism Center at Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Stanford is dedicated to providing specialized clinical services and advancing research in Autism Spectrum Disorder. Thanks to donors like you, the team provides Lars and many other children with the care they need, while also supporting their families with resources and information.

“For children with autism there are many roadblocks to success; some medical, some communication-related, and others that apply to everyday social behaviors such as recognizing and interpreting social cues, understanding facial expressions, difficulty empathizing with others, and the ever-present rigidity of autism. Through the services Lars has received, he is slowly but surely learning to make his way in the world socially, to better understand his peers. And he is being allowed the opportunity to generalize the skills he has learned in therapy to improve his quality of life and sense of self-worth,” says Sarah.

Thanks to his care team at the center, Lars is able to enjoy childhood, designing obstacle courses and programming with Scratch, an online community and resource.

Sarah is especially grateful for the team, as all three of her boys, including Lars’ twin brother, Buzz, and their older brother, John, have autism.

“When you have three brothers, born within 14 months of one another, who are each on the autism spectrum, life quickly becomes more complicated. It takes an entire clinic to raise and support a family with this kind of medical challenge. Through the services that the three children receive at Stanford, their relationship with one another is slowly improving as they learn to be cognizant that the challenges they face individually are also difficult for their siblings,” says Sarah.

The family currently lives in Mountain View, but some of their favorite memories are living on a lake in Massachusetts, where Sarah says, “It was like having our own big swimming pool for a backyard!” Today Lars enjoys spending time at the beach, an even bigger swimming pool.

The Stanford Autism Center is one of our most loyal Summer Scamper fundraising teams, gathering each year to raise money for autism research.

Scamper with Lars, his family, and the rest of the Stanford Autism Center team on race day on June 23. Join the team by searching for the Autism Center when you register. Help make a difference for kids like Lars, and their families!

Lars is #WhyWeScamper

You can support or join Lars’ Summer Scamper team today.