My husband and I were stunned after our son’s diagnosis. We didn’t know anything about autism. Our only frame of reference was a movie we had seen years earlier, “Rain Man.” The doctor was not helpful and didn’t give us any information regarding therapies or what we could do to help our son. Maybe he didn’t have access to that information or maybe he thought we wouldn’t hear anything else because we were still in a state of shock. He did give us the phone number to the Autism Society Central VA (ASCV). Family and friends tried to encourage us, but no one knew how to help us. When I made that phone call to the ASCV, it felt like someone had thrown me a lifeline. Finally, I had someone who understood what I was going through, another parent just like me.
Coming home from a meeting from the ASCV helped me feel empowered. The speakers were knowledgeable and gave me valuable information that taught me how to understand and help my child. The ASCV wants to change the way you view people with autism: to see ability instead of disability, to see a person instead of a label, to see an opportunity instead of a challenge, to see strength instead of weakness, and to see the value of each person no matter what their level of ability may be.
What the ASCV does: provides informative monthly meetings, a lending library, a monthly newsletter, websites and resources, emails alerting members to important information, sponsors trainings and seminars, provides information about other resources in the area, and organizes support groups. Families can learn about medical issues, educational rights, government policy, insurance regulations, and so much more. It’s the one place you can find everything you need to navigate the complex world of autism. They help parents learn to advocate for their children, teach individuals to advocate for themselves, and give teachers and other professionals the tools needed to teach and work with individuals with autism. Advocacy is about educating yourself, so you can make the right decisions for your child.
I’ll never forget those parents I met through the Autism Society in the early years when my son was first diagnosed. They always took the time to talk with me and answer my questions. They shared their stories with me, letting me know that I was not alone. They listed to mine as well, giving me advice and encouraging me. I learned so much from them. They gave me a different perspective from their years of experience. With time, I became a strong advocate for my son with the knowledge I gained from the ASCV.
The ASCV can help you no matter where you are on your journey. You could be a parent with a newly diagnosed child or an adult with ASD looking for job opportunities. The ASCV can answer your questions and give you helpful information that will help you continue your journey.
Contact the Autism Society Central Virginia at firstname.lastname@example.org, 804-257-0192, or check out the resources on their website at www.ascv.org.