Thanks to a mom, Kat Kooi, for sharing following information to help families.
Autism is isolating. It is an unfortunate truth. Not only are our ASD children isolated from their peers through communication and social challenges, but as a parent I was also feeling lonely. My friends didn’t understand the changes in my life that went along with my s on’s diagnosis and the children at the playground didn’t understand why my son wouldn’t (couldn’t) speak to them. It was not cruelty that left my son (and myself) alone at the playground. It was ignorance. Adults didn’t know what to say and children didn’t know what to expect. I started talking about Autism to any adult or child that would listen. It was amazing how little the average adult knew about ASD. Then I found Autism Family Cares.
Autism Family Cares is a not for profit group that offers events for children with ASD and their families such as movies, bowling parties, and most recently an Easter egg hunt. They also provide monthly support meetings for the families of children on the spectrum and mentorship for families of the recently diagnosed. I finally found a group of people who understood and had experienced all the unique challenges (and joys) that my family faced.
Currently the group is working on an Autism Awareness Project that would teach children in grades 1-5 what it is like to have Autism and what to expect when interacting with classmates on the spectrum. The goal is to create a more accepting and understanding environment both in and out of the classroom. Local school districts have been enthusiastic about the custom curriculum and worksheets that would teach children about sensory and communication challenges that go along with ASD and how to be a friend to a child who is Autistic.
I feel less isolated as a parent and, more importantly, I get to proactively educate my sons future friends on how to approach and befriend him. If you are interested in the Autism Awareness Project or any of the other offerings please view our website, www.AutismFamilyCares.org for more details on our upcoming events and join us for our next support meeting on Wednesday April 18th, 9:30 am -11:30 at the Grayslake Library.