NFHF Has Supported Me Since My Son’s Diagnosis
I remember the first time I contacted NFHF almost 6 years ago. I had just received the news that my only child, Jack, had Autism. I cried the whole way home crossing the Causeway, feeling panic stricken and lost. The Developmental Pediatrician had given me NFHF’s number as a resource. When I got home, I felt an urgent need to start helping my son. Right away I called NFHF, and it was the best decision I ever made.
I requested to speak with a parent who had a child with Autism and they set me up with someone immediately. I was informed about a state educational conference and they signed me up to attend the following weekend. That was the beginning of my journey. I participated in their monthly Autism support group meetings and began to make friends with some of the Moms who were the regulars. I didn’t feel as alone and actually felt better talking to people who were going through similar struggles. It is too easy to isolate yourself and become paralyzed by information overload in attempting to research all of this by yourself. By networking with other parents you learn new ideas, strategies and feel part of a community that “understands.”
Through the years NFHF has provided me numerous opportunities to learn how to deal with the various aspects of my son’s disability. When you have a child with a disability it feels like you have some new languages to learn, such as the Educational/IEP/School language, the language of your child’s disability, in my case, Autism, and the language of Waivers, Services and Supports. Many workshops are presented on the above mentioned topics and are invaluable to parents. There have been other topics covered such as dealing with problem behaviors, safety and various therapeutic interventions. The annual “Breakfast with Santa” has been a wonderful experience for families to enjoy with their children in a safe, caring, environment.
Finally, NFHF has taught me the importance about Advocacy, not only for my son, but for all of those with a developmental disability. By participating in the “Partners in Policymaking” Program offered through the Developmental Disabilities Council, and our Region 9 LACAN and LaTEACH advocacy groups, I have learned so much more than what could be taught in a textbook and that is the importance of our disability community, as well as our role in trying to change the system, to help our loved ones get the support and services they need to remain with their families and be a part of society, not hidden from it.
I don’t know where I’d be today if not for all of the assistance of NFHF over the years. They truly serve the disability community and want to help. They are the best 1 stop resource center for all disability matters, and for them to lose funding and cease operations would be a devastating loss for the families across the state who so rely on their services to navigate the complicated disability system.