Clearing away obstacles to caring
The possibility of a child developing a physical health problem is a hard pill to swallow for most parents. At first they may not acknowledge their child’s possibly delayed development because they don’t want to feel like they failed as parents.
Children learn how to speak, play, learn, walk, and show personality traits, usually within the first three years of their life. This is also when they could display abnormalities or delays in those functions. Two disorders that may be spotted in toddlers have different names but share some of the same signs: Autism and Asperger’s syndrome.
The similarities between the two are close, but the treatment is where the differences lie.
Autism is a condition related to brain development that impacts how a person perceives and socializes with others, causing problems in social interaction and communication. The disorder also includes limited and repetitive patterns of behavior.
Asperger’s syndrome is a developmental disorder and a form of mild autism on the spectrum. This disorder is characterized by unusual social interactions, poor non-verbal communication, restricted or repetitive behavioral patterns, physical clumsiness, and abnormal usage of language.
One of the few differences is that kids diagnosed with Asperger syndrome are comparatively normal in the aspects of language and intelligence.
Dealing with a child with a disorder of any kind can be challenging for parents, but Special Needs Network (SNN) is providing services to help the families with any needs and obstacles they may face.
SNN was created by civil attorney Areva Martin, a parent of a child with autism. She realized the disparity and challenges parents faced and decided she wanted to change it.
“I was stunned with how difficult it was trying to navigate the current system and how lacking it was for parents to get the services needed for their kids,” Martin said as she described her life and the adjustment she and her son had to make. “I believed there was a void in the community, and I wanted to create an organization to respond to my needs and other families’ needs.”
Martin has been helping families for 17 years with the non-profit organization. She has been one of the leaders to advocate for the SB 946 Senate bill that requires health insurance plans and service providers to cover behavioral health treatment for pervasive developmental disorder or autism.
SNN was also an advocate of the Department of Developmental Services, adding a grant in their budget that will provide funds to other community-based organizations to support their cases.
Another issue SNN and Martin are solving is the disparity of professionals with diverse backgrounds with their new program C.O.R.E. (Creating Opportunities and Resources for Equity in Early Intervention.)
The new workforce program recruits college graduates and current students in the human services fields of sociology, psychology, child development, speech-language pathology, occupational therapy, behavior analysis, communication disorders, or related fields.
Participants will receive training, benefits, and support, including Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion training and certification, professional subject matter and leadership training, and a paid training stipend.
SNN will also act as a middleman for 200 individuals who are eligible for their programs and help them connect with agencies that provide critical early services for children with developmental disabilities in communities of color.
To learn more about SNN and C.O.R.E, visit https://tinyurl.com/56jhu4v7 or visit their office at 4401 Crenshaw Blvd., Ste. 215 to learn about volunteer opportunities.