CAM AND COLE Quinn (1)By Marsha Quinn: Outreach Manager, Encompass

 

It is estimated that 1 in 68 children have been identified with autism spectrum disorder and that it is almost five times more common in boys than it is in girls (Center for Disease Control, 2015). Since April is Autism Awareness Month, a time to celebrate milestones, raise awareness and promote advocacy, Encompass asked its resident autism expert, Marsha Quinn, to talk about her personal and professional experience with the developmental disorder that affects both of her sons. In her open letter to autism, she shines a light on what it’s like to be a parent of children with autism—and how it has enriched her life.

At the conclusion, find resources and information about the services Encompass offers for families affected by autism, including free screenings, pediatric therapy, as well as parent support and education. Right here in our area, there is access to innovative, compassionate and convenient resources to help every family thrive. We hope you contact us at Encompass (425.888.2777) if you have questions and share this information with your friends and family to raise awareness, provide inspiration and support better outcomes.

Dear Autism,

You have given my job as a parent purpose. I don’t see you as a curse or a disease. I see you as a different platform or level in our universe that I like to call “special land.” An existence where my thoughts, opinions, day-to-day life and relationships are somehow altered from those of my “typical” friends, family and neighbors.

Don’t get me wrong, I am not complaining. I believe that you have given me so much rich insight and have made me the strong, resourceful and accepting person that I am. You are a part of both of my boys’ make-up. For Camden, you have silenced his voice. Being non-verbal can be frustrating for both him and for me, but his needs are very basic and simple. With that simplicity, he has given me the gift of unconditional love and for that I am grateful. His younger brother Cole, even though being raised beside his severely-impacted brother, doesn’t complain. Cole has been blessed with brilliance, athletic ability and his unique quirky way. He helps his brother and helps us when we need a break.

When you first introduced yourself to me, I was incredibly sad, angry and alone. The long list of recommendations of how to deal with you was delivered, and immediately I became the coach of a team of an unknown sport. This is where Encompass came to my rescue not once, but two times, with their early intervention and support programs. You, Autism, are not curable, but I have seen how well you respond to hours of hard work, sweat and tears of multiple therapies.

Autism, I know that you are not going away and will be a part of my life always. You have helped me in a lot of ways. Most importantly, you have given me purpose. My greatest joy is helping other parents of kids with autism spectrum disorder; helping them with their journey and filling their toolbox with resources and hope. My job allows me to do this on a daily basis through Encompass Pediatric Therapy and Parent Education programs—many of these offerings were not even available when I received my diagnosis in 2001, but I get to share them now.

 

If you think your child may be on the autism spectrum, speak with your pediatrician and then schedule a free developmental screening with Encompass (call our pediatric therapy clinic at 425.888.3347 or email Marsha Quinn). Please remember, it’s never too early or too late to get help for your child. Encompass Provides Many Programs for Families Living with Autism , including: Free developmental screenings/consultations, Birth-to-Three Early Intervention, Pediatric Therapy, Mom’s Moment (a support group for parents with special needs children), Free parenting workshops, Parent-Child Interaction Therapy/Training, and Early Learning Programs.

Ways to Show Your Support of Autism Awareness: 1) Follow Encompass on Facebook for information, stories and resources on autism—and SHARE them. 2) Visit the Center for Disease Control’s (CDC) website for facts, events and more.  3) Check out our autism-specific boards on Pinterest for ways to teach your children about autism, how to support families affected by autism ideas for spreading awareness and more.

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