As my son was starting preschool, I had just learned that he was diagnosed with autism, developmental delay, and many other disorders. I was a single mother and moved from my small hometown of New Lexington, OH to stay in the Columbus area where my son had more options to receive therapy services to better aid his disorders.
As my son got older, I started receiving frequent phone calls from the school to come pick up my son due to his behaviors. I didn’t know what to do. His teachers had a behavior management plan, but still continued to call. It started to interfere with my work. I needed to know what I could do to get my son back on track at school. This led me to call Elaine Hamilton, at the time, a Columbus City Schools Parent Mentor.
Elaine listened to me thoroughly, gave me lots of information, and directed me to my next steps. I did end up leaving my job. With all the extra time, I started to volunteer with my son’s school, and also reached out to a local organization called the Autism Society of Central Ohio. The more I was at the school, the more I felt like parents were used to seeing me and naturally started asking me questions about school or for help. So, I decided to help run the PTO.
Columbus City Schools were also in the process of bringing back a Parent Consultants program, which I happily joined in on as well. With the help of the Autism Society of Ohio, the Parent Consultants, and the PTO, I was able to build a support system that better helped me to support my son, not only at school, but home as well.
We recently moved back to my small town. The town does not currently have the resources to help with our transition, and I have received a lot of push-back from my son’s school. Still, I continue to advocate for my child and want to help show other parents or families how they, too, can advocate for their children. I continue a support group to this day in my small town in hopes that sharing the experiences of my journey helps other families along theirs!
This story was submitted by Angela Lacey, a family representative on our State Advisory Council