A call from a Parent with an Autistic Child                          December 2008
In This Issue

A Call from a Parent with an Autistic Child



Dear Friend,
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 Parents Helping Parents*
 108 Water Street
 Watertown, MA 02472
Happy holidays.


Randall Block
Executive Director
A Call from a Parent
With an Autistic Child
Recently I took a call from a woman whose name I never learn.  She is sobbing so hard I can barely understand her.  I calm her down as best as I can and she starts to tell me her story. 
She has a five year old with autism.  She can’t stand the head-banging any more.  He’s too embarrassing to take out in public.   She has no one else to turn to. 
Her son repeatedly interrupts the call and she pleads with him to go to his room; that she needs to speak to an adult now.
I tell her that her that autism can be very hard to deal with but it sounds like she is doing a great job talking to her son.  I listen to her feelings of isolation, loneliness and helplessness.  I let her talk for as long as she needs to.  I compliment her on calling the Parental Stress Line and ask how else she is getting help.  She’s tried the Department of Mental Health and they’ve told her that she isn’t eligible for services.  She’s gone to the Department of Social Services and they’ve offered to place her child in a residential program but she loves her son and wants him to stay at home. 
The cell phone crackles and she apologizes for the poor connection.  I worry that we will get disconnected.  “Have you talked to people at the Federation for Children with Special Needs?” I ask.  No she hasn’t tried them.  You might also call “PAL”, the Parent Advocacy League.  “If you have something to write with I’ll give you their phone numbers.” 
As she is looking for paper and  pencil I tell her that sometimes parents can help each other.  “What town do you live in?” I ask.  “Worcester” is the reply.  “We have a support group there.  Would you like the telephone number of someone in the group?” 
I give her the group facilitator’s contact number.  I begin to relax.  I’ve given her some concrete leads.  If she calls any of them she should get some help. 
“I’ll call these numbers tomorrow,” she tells me.  “I’m so exhausted I have to take a day off from work.”  I tell her that’s a great idea.  “Taking care of yourself is so important.  We talk about that all the time in group.  If you don’t take care of yourself, you can’t take care of your son.”
I return to the delicate subject of DSS’ offer to provide residential care.  “You are doing an incredible job with your son but sometimes kids need residential placement for awhile just like they may need hospitalization for awhile.  It’s ok to do that.  These telephone numbers I’ve given you, they can help you figure out how to find a residential program that’s good for your son.”
“Thanks for your help,” she tells me. 
“Just one last question, I ask.  “How did you find out about us?” 
“I have your magnet on my refrigerator.  I got it at a health fair in Worcester last year.”
“You take care now,” I tell her.  And she’s gone.  Back to her autistic son.  Back to an isolated world.  But she has a little more information than before.  Perhaps she will act on it.  Perhaps she will call us again.
Save the Date: PHP's Biennial Conference
"A Change for the Better - Finding the Courage to Make a Difference"

Saturday, April 4, 2009 at Tufts Health Plan Conference Center, Watertown, MA
Keynote Speaker: Stephen J. Schwartz, Executive Director, Center for Public Representation and lead attorney in the "Rosie D," case.

If you would like to attend or you are interested in presenting, please call: 617-926-5008x101 or send an email to

Our mailing address is:
Parents Helping Parents
108 Water Street
Watertown, MA 02472
Phone: 617-926-5008