Guadalupe and Jose have two children. Their oldest son Mario is 9 years old and was diagnosed with Autism at the age of 2. Mario’s school referred Guadalupe and her family to ParentsCAN because they felt Guadalupe needed to find a support group.
During our initial assessment we quickly learned that indeed Guadalupe and her family were very isolated. They had no family in the area, nor did they know anyone else that had a child like theirs. But as we continued talking, Guadalupe began to express that she was very overwhelmed with the challenging behavior her son exhibited and many times she would stay behind with her son while her husband and daughter went out. The simplest outings, such as going to the grocery store, were filled with so much chaos and turmoil due to her son’s behavior that she would just rather stay home. She was also very fearful to leave Mario with anyone other than her husband. She was frustrated with her son’s school - Mario did not seem to be making any progress. Even after attending numerous meetings with his teachers, nothing seemed to be helping her son.
Although Guadalupe was referred to ParentsCAN to find a support group, after our initial assessment, she decided that a more immediate need for her was to find help for her son to be able to manage his behavior, without this there was just no way for her to even think about going to a support group. In turn, Guadalupe was assigned to a ParentsCAN advocate who is also a mother of a child with an Autism Spectrum Disorder. For the first time Guadalupe talked to someone who she felt could really understand her situation and an instant connection was made. Guadalupe and her advocate developed a plan to help her find services and support for her son. Guadalupe was given information regarding Mario’s disability, she was able to understand why it was that he was having trouble in certain situations. She was registered for a workshop on special education that taught Guadalupe her rights and responsibilities so she could be more effective in her conversations with the school. Additionally, her advocate made several referrals to local agencies that could provide Guadalupe with in-home behavioral therapy.
Several months later, a smiling Guadalupe attended her first support group. Although things were not perfect and her son was still having behavior problems, the school and her home program were now working together, her son’s behavior was slowly improving. As a result of a referral from ParentsCAN she had also qualified for respite care, with both of these services in place Guadalupe was able to leave Mario with a trained care provider giving her confidence to leave her home and attend the support group.
Recently Guadalupe has started volunteering for ParentsCAN; she makes phone calls to parents to invite them to the monthly support group, she arrives early to help the group facilitator set up and is always the first to volunteer to help with other projects. Mario is also doing much better at school and at home, on occasion he has tantrums but now Guadalupe knows what to do to manage his behavior. Guadalupe has been able to be at every support group meeting and shares her story with every new parent that attends the group.
Guadalupe found support that is much more than just a monthly meeting she can attend, she has found a place that gives her confidence, hope and a sense of empowerment to accept her son’s disability, be able to cope with her situation and has equipped her to advocate for the needs of her son and her family.