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With one call, I found my voice

Published
April 7, 2022
Type
Community Voices

“Call INCLUDEnyc, they help parents there.” That’s the first thing I heard about INCLUDEnyc as I was looking for assistance for my 9 year old son, Juan Luis. It was a relief that I could get support for him. Juan Luis has autism and has always had difficulties with change so when school switched over to remote learning, I didn’t know how to support him. I began having problems with his behavior. There were a lot of technology problems and he got distracted in his online classes. I’m not the best with computers, the connection was often bad, and I just couldn’t get my son to focus. I don’t think when the pandemic began, people realized how much time parents would be taking to make these virtual classes work, especially for children with disabilities and parents with limited English skills. 

When my son was offered a spot in summer programming, I knew that the change wasn’t going to be easy. His spot was in a different location than his school and immediately Juan Luis began saying to me “I just want to go to my normal school.” I realized that my son wasn’t getting the support he needed in summer programming or at his school, so I decided to find a more appropriate placement. That’s when my son’s summer program gave me INCLUDEnyc’s Help Line number. I reached out and was connected with INCLUDEnyc Family Educator Johanna. Johanna has helped me prepare for the meetings with my son’s teachers who have had issues with his behavior in the classroom. Johanna made me feel like I could help and be part of setting a behavior plan and figuring out what was happening. Her support helped me understand how I can best help my child. I have seen such a big change in Juan Luis since that meeting. I know I can count on INCLUDEnyc. I feel secure, I have the support to become knowledgeable, and I know what to do for my son. 

I am still seeking a new placement for my son, but he is being monitored and given extra support during this time. I have learned how to advocate for better training for teachers on how autism presents in different children and how to make transitions less difficult. Having clear information is so important when fighting for the rights of your child. INCLUDEnyc helped me learn that not knowing something doesn’t mean you don’t have rights. 

I am so glad I was given INCLUDEnyc’s Help Line number. I now give the number out to any parent I meet that has a child with a disability. I hope that they’ll get help like I did and that no other child will be ignored when all they need is extra support. I tell them that sometimes I can’t find the right words to stand up for my son, but INCLUDEnyc has helped me come up with the best plans for him. I only hope other parents can find their voice like I did.