2012 is a transition year for Leah, and by extension, for our family. This year she will 'graduate' from Millersville Elementary, where we have been fortunate to work with a team of people who have stayed a few steps ahead of her quirkiest behaviors, celebrated her successes, loved her (on the days she wants to be loved, and more importantly, on the days she doesn't), and taught her some things along the way. We managed to avoid thinking about the end of the school year for a long time, but now that Leah's transition IEP meeting is on the calendar, we can't avoid it. We're really going to miss Millersville, and the people who have made her time there so successful.
Finding the right people is crucial when you're trying to help a child with autism. The 'village' metaphor is well-worn, but apt for our family. A lot of great people have helped Leah in the last nine years. And I wonder how many we would have found without networking.
We started our in-home program after a friend let me observe hers and gave me some recommendations about how to find therapists. I found out about the home-based services Leah received in preschool from some parents I befriended in waiting rooms. I participated in an informal group of parents who helped each other navigate biomedical treatment approaches. Leah's social skills group leader was recommended by another friend, and has been indispensable to our family for more than seven years. That same friend told me about the autism program at Millersville. I went to Leah's last transition IEP meeting with information the school system did not often provide to parents. Score another one for the parent network.
Working with TACA has allowed me to remain part of a strong support network, with the added benefit of the resources and family support programs the TACA foundation provides. Families affected by autism can't -- and shouldn't -- navigate this alone. Amidst the challenges we face, it is a relief and a pleasure to spend time with a group of people who know exactly how it feels to be raising special-needs children.
Members of Leah's village have been generous with their free time, giving presentations at our monthly TACA meetings that help us guide other parents on their way. Our families know that the professionals in the trenches with our kids can make this journey easier. Which is why it's going to be so hard for me to say goodbye to the Millersville team. I expect to be a hot mess on the last day of school, which is far better than the alternative. Unfortunately, not all families have such positive school experiences, but through TACA, we can empower parents to advocate for their children, and put the programs in place to help them.
A donation to TACA will help our chapter continue to support Maryland and DC families. Donating to TACA through this website is simple, fast and totally secure. It is also the most efficient way to support our fundraising efforts.
Thank you for visiting our page, and for following our story.
The Hamilton Family: Alison, Mike, Leah, Lauren, and Maddie
To read more about our story, find us at http://hamfamkids.blogspot.com.