We prioritize and frequently attend community events. Our goal is to get resources in the hands of families, but we also gain a great deal of insight about pain points, service gaps, and the actual impact diverse learners have on the family unit. On one occasion, we encountered a grandmother who had recently received the news that her grandson was diagnosed with autism. She was overwhelmed and desperate for help. She was at the resource fair seeking any information she could receive that would position her to help her grandson and family. The grandmother shared that her son and daughter in law were in denial and were refusing services for the child. Denial is a way of coping. It may be what gets you through a particularly difficult period. It is important to be aware that you may be experiencing denial so that it doesn’t interfere with making good decisions about your child’s treatment (Autism Speaks, 2018).
Learning that your child or a family member has a diagnosis can be a heart-wrenching moment. Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a developmental disorder marked by impaired social interaction, limited communication, behavioral challenges, and a limited range of activities and interests. It has been estimated to affect 1 in 54 individuals in the United States and it is more common in boys than girls (Center for Autism Related Disorders, 2020). When it comes to any intellectual or developmental disorder, it is of the essence for each one of us to demonstrate kindness and empathy; many of us do not recognize how challenging it may be for the individual and their family members.
Ultimately, we encouraged this brave grandmother by acknowledging the courage required for her to simply attend the event and become her grandson’s advocate. Her family needs her now more than ever to educate them about autism and on the critical importance that they work together for the child. Advocating for your child will be a lifelong journey that will require different skills depending on your child’s needs (Autism Speaks, 2018).
At the iCan Dream Center, we host parent groups to provide parents and family members with the tools and support needed to continue thriving in their roles as advocates and caregivers. We have a dedicated team that is available to students and their loved ones. We provide ABA Services, support for IEP Meetings and an array of other programs for individuals impacted by autism. It is an honor to witness our learners make progress and excel.
Autism Speaks. (n.d.) A Parent’s Guide to Autism. http://www.autismspeaks.org/sites/default/files/2018-08/Parents%20Guide%20to%20Autism.pdf
Center for Autism and Related Disorders. 2020. Understanding Autism Spectrum Disorder. https://www.centerforautism.com/resources/understanding-autism/