Money: To parents of children who have autism — you are not alone

Posted 4/6/21

I knew being a father wasn’t going to be easy. But I was up for the challenge.

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Money: To parents of children who have autism — you are not alone

Posted

I knew being a father wasn’t going to be easy. But I was up for the challenge. My son is kind-hearted and curious, but is easily frustrated and tends to bite or hit when he feels he is misunderstood.

As our beautiful boy grew older, he asked questions like any young child, but his questions were more intense.

He was never satisfied with the answers we provided. It wasn’t enough to say the character in a book was a dinosaur. He needed to know what type of dinosaur. Why was there a dinosaur in the story in the first place? Why couldn’t it be something else? We knew something was different but didn’t know what to do about it.

His mom and I spent his early years taking him from one day care to another. Our son would be labeled “a naughty child” and we would have to find a new place.

Each time we thought we had found the right place, that the staff had extensive experience working with “spirited” children, we were thrilled. But the call always came. “It’s time for you to start looking for a new day care center. Your son is not welcome here.”

We knew we needed help and looked everywhere for answers.

We knew he needed to see a specialist, but screening can be expensive and wasn’t covered by our insurance. We felt like terrible parents.

After talking with more professionals than I can remember and visiting agencies specializing in behavioral health, we were referred to Jewish Family & Children’s Service.

We weren’t Jewish but like their mission states, they work with families of all faiths and we were welcomed with open arms. The staff were understanding and offered compassionate care without judgment.

We were finally on the right path and meeting with professionals who could help our son.

After a series of behavioral analysis tests, our son was diagnosed with ADHD and autism. We were so grateful for an answer, as the diagnosis opened the door to specialists, therapy and support groups.

JFCS championed our cause with school administrators and guidance counselors to make sure our son was evaluated for an individualized education program. Today, he has access to an occupational therapist, a psychologist and the extra help he needs.

JFCS also helped us get into a parenting support group. It has been a lifesaver teaching us how to relate and react to our son. I now know how to recognize when he is frustrated or needs time alone.

I am sharing our story because I want other parents to know that they are not alone. There is hope, and agencies like Jewish Family & Children’s Service can help. If, at first, you don’t get the answers you need, keep trying. Don’t take no for an answer, and always be an advocate for your child.

April is Autism Awareness Month. It’s a month to promote awareness and to celebrate our beautiful children. It’s a time to champion compassion, acceptance and inclusion so our children can have:

• Access to equal opportunities.

• A fair chance at attending a school, regardless of their abilities or level of development.

• Access to therapy and counseling within the public health care or education system.

• The ability to go out in public without people staring and judging them or their parents.

• Access to the tools to develop intellectually, physically and mentally so that they can grow up and contribute to society.

The last few years have been challenging, but people continue to help and support us.

To them, I say thank you. And to others who are struggling, I offer encouragement.

You can do it.

Ken Money is a Surprise resident.

autism, awareness

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