#MyMilestones: Helping Families Navigate the Unique Needs of Their Children with ASD
Posted on 12/26/16 in Supporting the Mission by Mia
Every child is their own person - complete with specific ways of relating to the world. For families that have multiple children with ASD, navigating this journey can be much like a puzzle. What works for one child, does not always help others to thrive. This is a common challenge - one that comes often with a sense of much frustration for parents - that we aim to support through our work at Milestones.
In 2005 we met Debra Greene. Debra has two sons on the autism spectrum with very different needs. That year, she received information about Milestones through an intervention specialist of one of her boys. She attended the annual conference where she recalls being "exceedingly impressed, especially with the wide array of relevant workshop offerings." Debra was encouraged, knowing that she had found an organization that could help her.
In search of more information, Debra attended her second conference the following year and soon after began volunteering at the Milestones office. She wanted to share the support that she had received with other families in need, having experienced the benefit of being a part of the Milestones community.
"Milestones was, and has been a valuable resource during difficult seasons of care-giving for a loved one with Autism," says Debra. "Their efforts helped me and my family tremendously. I wanted the opportunity to give back by helping others who were going through what I went through."
Over time, the Greene family was able to see the benefit of engaging with Milestones in various ways: "The Milestones website has been a wonderful resource for me, providing many tools I've used with my sons Aaron and Matthew."
Milestones has assisted the Greene family in many other ways, including:
- Providing a platform for Debra's son, Nick, to participate in a conference workshop for siblings of children with autism.
- Helping to construct a plan for Matthew to transition from high school to adult agency placement. Specifically, Beth Thompson's attendance at IEP meetings and assistance in sorting through the data collected from 5 different agency tours. "Also," says Debra, "Beth and Haley [Dunn] met with Matt's dad and I, helping us to outline our short and long-term goals for Matthew."
- Awarding Aaron an unpaid summer internship which increased his social and employment skills, helped him come out of his shell, allowed him to learn to follow directions and multi-task - all in a safe and nurturing environment.
- Allowing Aaron, a gifted musician, to play his keyboard at Milestones events where he has developed his performance skills and become more self-confident. With additional staff support, Aaron has played piano at other venues in the Cleveland area, to which the staff has periodically provided on-site aide support.
Debra continues, "The collaboration Milestones has with other agencies including John Carroll University and Jewish Family Services have also been wonderful for our family. They have provided the opportunity for our children to be involved with other young adults and become more social."
Debra now serves on the Milestones Board of Trustees. "I love my board involvement with Milestones and I've learned so much. I am constantly impressed by the people serving on the Board who so passionately give of their time and talents - even if they have no direct connection to someone with autism." She is also involved on the committee which helps plan the Milestones annual conference by providing ideas for topics that are relevant to parents whose children have autism.