Nurturing a Child on the Autism Spectrum - Our Family's Story

Written by: Bryan Martinez

So, on a cold day back in February of 2012, my wife urged me to come along with her to this big Developmental Differences Resource Fair she had read about  somewhere in the city. We live in Berwyn, so that pretty much meant that I would have to actually have to change from my comfy clothes on my day off and bundle up in order to brave the harsh Chicago environments (including traffic) to drive out to this fair. Uggghhh….I thought. As, we drove out there we talked about getting an opportunity to meet with professionals in the industry and find ways to better educate ourselves in which to ensure a healthy and proper growth for our son, Diego.

When we finally arrived at the fair, we found parking right out front. SWEET, ROCK STAR PARKING…I thought. To say that I was nervous would be scratching the surface of my true feelings. I was pretty terrified. I guess I didn’t know what to expect. Ask me to go to a Bulls convention or a ComiCon and I’m all elated. Ask me to go to a fair dealing with Autism…and I cower at the opportunity. Fortunately, my wife was there. She’s pretty much the facilitator in the family; the one who seeks out all of these beneficial aids and gets things done. Me? I’m the “guy” in the family.

So, we made our way in and sat in on a symposium on financial aid and navigating your way through the scary world of public schools. We then arrived at the main floor where all of the “action” happened to be. All the seemingly intimidating booths and all of the super happy people…all in one place. My wife told me to attack one section while she took on another. So, there I was…meeting all these new people and telling them my situation. After awhile, it started to feel a bit therapeutic. Sort of like when you have something that’s been bothering you and you explain it to someone who knows exactly what you are going through.

Then, we met a wonderful therapist named Amanda from L.E.E.P. Forward. It was our introduction to, what would eventually become, a huge part of our son’s growth. She was very cordial as she explained to us what would be involved with enrolling our son in this brand new place. We pretty much decided right there on the spot that it would be an enriching opportunity for Diego; a place that not only cared for kids and supported their growth and well-being but, also understood completely the requirements and responsibilities that go along with nurturing a child on the spectrum. I loved it.

L.E.E.P. Forward later went on to become a huge part of our lives and I could not be happier. Meeting with the wonderful people there only assured us that it was the right decision for us. And I’m actually happy that my wife “dragged” me along on that one cold day in February. Had I not gone, I would never have known what it would’ve been like to meet people with the same struggles as our own and to network with people with the same goals. I would have never had the opportunity to place Diego in a great place like L.E.E.P. Forward. The NPN Developmental Differences Resource Fair has a wealth of information for families with the same struggles as ours and I hope that you find your way to their doorstep.


Join us for NPN's 2nd Annual Developmental Differences Resource Fair on Sunday, Feb 10 from 10am-2pm at Gordon Tech High School.

Helping parents of children (from birth through 8th grade) with a range of developmental differences - developmental delays (i.e., speech, motor skills), sensory processing disorder, autism, ADD/ADHD, PDD-NOS, mixed receptive-expressive language disorder, Down Syndrome, physical disabilities, and more.

This one-of-a-kind event is FREE and open to the public! RSVP to get your ticket today!

Posted on January 07, 2013 at 3:47 PM