My blog is called “Laughing at Life’s Realities.”
You can find it at: http://www.the-leader.com/blogs/laughing
Thanks, Nicole Thibault
I’ve often said that when my son was diagnosed with Autism 5 years ago, I wished that the Doctors had an Autism User’s Manual for parents of the newly-diagnosed. Instead, we were given a diagnosis and a two-page pamphlet. It was not much to go on.
We really struggled in those first few weeks after the diagnosis. In addition to the blow to our hearts, we weren’t sure how to get the best help for our son; it was so overwhelming! Choosing agencies for therapies, different types of therapies, new doctors – our heads were spinning.
At one point, someone suggested I look into an Autism Support Group. I remembered a link to the local group here in Rochester on some of the paperwork we got from a Doctor, and I signed onto the Yahoo message board for UNYFEAT, Upstate New York Families for Effective Autism Treatment.
One of the benefits from being a member of a support group was that I had a community of families that had already been through many of the experiences I was going through for the first time. If I needed to know the name of a Dentist that is sensitive to kids with Special Needs, all I had to do was put up a post on the Message Boards, or search through the History of messages to find a Dentist name and location.
Knowing that I didn’t have to “reinvent the wheel” was a comfort, as well as knowing that other parents had been through this before and had advice to offer. I can’t even express the gratitude I feel to the parents who have replied to my requests for information; these parents made the path ahead a little easier to travel.
I remember a posting on the Message Board for a meet-up of some parents at a local playground. Knowing my son needed more socialization with other children, I brought my two boys to meet other children with Autism and their families. It was there I started some of the friendships I still carry in my heart today.
Some people I know through UNYFEAT are in name only; I recognize their names from the Message Boards. Their advice and responses have provided great insight and suggestions along our journey through Autism.
Other UNYFEAT members I have become friends with on FaceBook, and we share articles, blogs, and events in the area on our pages. We support each other daily through our postings.
And some people I’ve met through UNYFEAT are life-long friends. Our kids meet regularly for play dates, we get invitations to birthday parties, and we’ve even vacationed with another family in Orlando, meeting up at the pool and theme parks for days of fun with our kids.
I meet with other parents in parking lots to discuss teachers and services. We help each other out with child care when another needs a break. We text and call when something is not going the way we’d hoped, and we celebrate successes together.
And through our connections with UNYFEAT, my son, Tristan, has found his best friend, which means the world to me. He’s accepted and valued as just a GREAT KID by his best friend and his family. And we feel the same about his friend too.
I find such solace in these friendships I’ve made through UNYFEAT. Parent-to-Parent support has been so meaningful to our family and we’ve made some friendships that will last a lifetime. I can’t imagine where we’d be if we would’ve had to travel this road alone, but luckily, I don’t have to imagine it. We had support all along the way.