I am the mother of two beautiful children on the autism spectrum. My son is 9 and my daughter is 7. My husband is an aerospace engineer and works for a NASA contractor. I also have a stepdaughter, age 16, who lives in Kansas. She visits often and the younger children adore her.
My son is in a private school for children on the autism spectrum. My daughter attends a public STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) school. Both children started out in a Preschool Program for Children with Disabilities (PPCD) in the public school.
However, when my son entered kindergarten, we started seeing problems. I tried working with the school, but the issues got worse. In third grade, we moved him to private school. Now, this year, both children are thriving in school. Working with the schools taught me how important it is to advocate for my children.
During this time, I became passionate about helping other families who were struggling with special education services in public school. I wanted to share what I have learned. And I wanted to learn more about other disability issues. A friend told me about Disability Leadership Network of Houston (DLNH). I signed up for the fall 2018 class.
DLNH is a project of Family to Family Network (F2F). They host a new advocacy class every spring and fall. The class meets on four Saturdays to learn about topics important to people with disabilities. What a wonderful experience it has been learning from F2F’s Judy Blake and all the amazing speakers.
And I have learned so much! Topics have included:
My children are young. But because of these classes, I now have the resources to begin planning for their futures. I now know where to ask for help or clarification.
I also know who to call about pending legislation. By expanding my knowledge on these important topics, DLNH has empowered me. It also has enhanced my passion for helping others. I have been able to share what I have learned with countless families. And I highly encourage them to sign up for DLNH.
DLNH trainings are free for parents and people with disabilities. Each class is offered at different Houston-area locations so they can be convenient for everyone.
I look forward to sharing what I have learned with other families. I also want to educate the community at large on how to include and support people with disabilities. Thanks to DLNH, I now have the tools and knowledge to help not only my children, but others as well.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, we asked parents of children with disabilities and special health care needs to share their tips and stories about caring for their children during difficult times.