By KYW community affairs reporter Cherri Gregg

PHILADELPHIA, Pa. (CBS) — “We definitely want our kids to become their best personal selves,” says Terri Matthews.

A mother of three, Matthews learned the true meaning of grit when her son Jaden (below) was diagnosed with autism at age 2½ and lost all ability to speak.

“So I became his voice.”

(Jaden Matthews.  Photo provided)

(Jaden Matthews. Photo provided)

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Terri Matthews says she became Jaden’s advocate.

“He’s now speaking today, but with tons and tons and tons of therapy” — therapy that cost hundreds of thousands of dollars, she points out.  But Matthews, a corporate executive, knows her family is fortunate.

“I didn’t want the dollar amount to keep any child from being able to get the services they need,” she says.

So she founded Jaden’s Voice, a nonprofit group that advocates for autistic children in underserved communities.

“We wanted to make sure that kids were being served regardless of economic status, race, who they know, what politicians they’re friends with,” Matthews says.

Today, she advocates for early intervention programs in public schools so that all children get the services they need.  “So that we can serve the community in the best way that we need them served.”

For more information about Jaden’s Voice, go to jadensvoice.org.

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Follow Cherri Gregg on Twitter: @cherrigregg
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