Parenting Support, Video

Creating a Support System: Helping your Family and Community Understand Autism: a Webinar

  • with Donyelle Clark-Kennedy, M.Ed., BCBA, LBA

    CEO and Clinical Director, Rise Behavioral Services

    Ms. Clark-Kennedy has worked with individuals diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder and other developmental disabilities since 2007. She has worked in clinical and school settings, providing direct therapy and consultation services and serves as Vice-Chair on the Board of Directors for the Capital Area Autism Network (CAANBR).

  • A common frustration among parents and caregivers of children with autism is the lack of understanding of the diagnosis from family members and friends. In this webinar you will learn strategies to educate your loved ones about what an autism diagnosis means to your family. We will discuss ways to empower yourself as an advocate for your child and model behaviors that will lead to their own self-advocacy in the future.

    Watch Webinar Video:

    This will be recorded.

    All right, so hi, everyone. My name’s Julie McKinney, I’m with Exceptional Lives. And I am going to just do a few little housekeeping and then we will get Donyelle up and started with her presentation, which is Creating a Support System: Helping your Family and Community Understand Autism.

    As part of being an accessible webinar, one of the things we do is the people on screen will describe what we look like for people with visual impairments. So first, I’m just gonna tell you, I am a White woman in my fifties with short brown hair, glasses, and a teal colored shirt. And so, we’re just gonna go through a few quick things. There will be a live transcript also to help people who may have, may need to see the words on the screen while you’re hearing them. You can toggle it on and off. You can do it with closed captions or see the whole transcript as it’s going through. We will have the full transcript in English and Spanish put on our website in a few weeks, so along with the recording, so you’ll be able to see that again. Next slide. So the chat feature, I’m sure you’re all familiar with. The default right now is set to host and panelists. So if you want to share comments with the whole group, please change it to everyone. But if you have any technical difficulties, you can put it on host and panelists and just let us know what you need and we will help you out. Also, at the bottom of your screen, or at the top if you’re on a tablet, is a Q&A button. If you have questions for Donyelle, which she will answer at the end of the presentations, please use the Q&A button for that. But you’re welcome to use chat for anything else. And if you need anything, just chat with us. Okay, next one. Okay, we talked about the Q&A, if you wanna, you can click on that send anonymously box on the Q&A if you wanna send a question but not have your name attached to it. So that’s another option. Next, I’m just gonna tell you a little bit about Exceptional Lives, for those of you who aren’t familiar. We have a whole set of resources and support for parents and caregivers of children and young adults with disabilities. Our information is also applicable to many providers as well. And we can go on to describe what else we do on the next slide. So these are a few things that we do. We have guidance to help you to learn about services that you can get for your child, how to apply for them, how to navigate these complicated systems. We also have a resource directory to find local providers and services in your area. We have blogs and podcasts that are perspectives from parents who have been through this, and share tips and emotional support. We all know that we need a community, which is what Donyelle’s gonna talk about. So part of what we wanna do is be part of your community so that you can share, and read, and listen to other parents talking about caring for children with disabilities. Most of our staff have children with disabilities ourselves. So we’ve been there and we know a lot of the ups and downs, and challenges, and joys that our audience here is feeling. So that’s part of how we operate. And we do wanna connect to you. We have social media, Facebook and Instagram, so please join us and be part of our community. Next slide. Oh, and before we do that, here is the results of the poll. Milk chocolate beats dark chocolate out by just a little bit. Yeah, we had a few people who were like, “What is this question?” So anyway, we tend to focus a little bit on chocolate. We know it’s healthy and good for us. So I’m glad that we have most people who are liking it and eating it. There will be some other polls that will come up, so please answer those too. Those have a little bit more relevant information on them. So I also wanna tell you about some of our latest projects. We’re looking for people who might wanna be interested in being interviewed by us for a half an hour or so, hopefully with your child, if they’re up for it, but just talking about some of the challenges and supports of your parenting journey. We share clips of that on our website and through social media just to sort of help other parents hear your perspective and realize that they’re not alone. We also have a new podcast called “Just Needs, Parenting Children with Disabilities.” Look for that on our website as well. So I’m now gonna introduce Donyelle. We’re really excited to have you with us, Donyelle. Donyelle did another webinar a few weeks ago which was excellent. And I’m sure this one will be as well. So Donyelle is the CEO and clinical director of Rise Behavioral Services. She has a master’s in psychology and is a board certified and licensed behavior analyst. She also has a master’s in curriculum and instruction, with an emphasis on high incidence disabilities and applied behavioral analysis from Nicholls State University. She’s pursuing a doctorate in adult learning and development at Northwestern. And she’s worked in clinical and school settings, providing direct therapy and consultation services. That’s a lot of education, Donyelle, good for you. Donyelle provides school consultation services to Pre-K through 12th grade educators to incorporate the principles of applied behavior analysis in classroom management. She currently owns Rise Behavioral Services and serves as the vice chair on the board of directors for the Capital Area Autism Network. So, Donyelle, we are so excited to have you. And I will let you take it away. Just one quick reminder to fill out the poll if you haven’t. Thanks so much. Thank you so much, Julie, for the introduction. And thank you again to Exceptional Lives for having me here for a second webinar. I spoke last month about recognizing the early signs of autism and some barriers to treatment. And so, today, as you Julie said, we will discuss creating a support system and educating your community about autism and how they can best support you and your child as you all go throughout this journey after receiving an autism diagnosis. So again, thank you so much to Exceptional Lives and just for who you all are to the community and for putting these series of workshops together. And if you all haven’t had a chance to attend, there are a few more left. So register for those because there’s some awesome topics coming up, as well as recordings being made available for previous topics. So I will go over the agenda real quickly. First, we will begin by defining autism, going over just quickly what does it mean to be diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder, how autism affects families, educating your community, we’ll discuss a few action steps, and then leave room for questions and answer. So whenever we define autism spectrum disorder, autism spectrum disorder is a neurological disorder that affects individuals in multiple areas. So it affects individuals in the area of the development of social skills. So being unable to, or having a challenging time when developing meaningful relationships and maintaining meaningful relationships. Engaging in repetitive behaviors that may interfere with the classroom environment or in vocational settings that hinder the individual from being able to get the most from those environments, or also being fixated on certain interests, so those also hinder social skills and the development of communication skills appropriately. The third area is the impact of communication. And so, the delays in development in the area of language that helps us to get our needs and wants met, and also being able to engage with our peers, parents, and teachers, everybody in our community. If there’s deficits and delays in language and communication, then there’s a barrier in that area that individuals with autism experience. And then one of the other areas is non-verbal communication. So being unable to pick up on the non-verbal cues as a part of communication, not knowing when we have the green light to continue talking about a certain topic, or when we should stop talking about a topic, or high fives, nods, all of those things that we know through engaging with others that are not spoken, those ways that we communicate without using words. Individuals with autism may have difficulties picking up on cues, which also in turn may lead back to being unable to establish those relationships and engage in social settings. So I wanted to just share this overview of autism. And this is not an exhaustive list of all of the ways that autism affects individuals. It’s also important to note that autism is a spectrum disorder. I’m sorry, I did not begin with my self description. I am an African American woman, I’m 35, I have shoulder-length locked hair, and I am wearing a blue shirt. But I was saying that this list is not exhaustive. And individuals with all autism are impacted by the diagnosis in different ways. There’s individuals who may have, they may be more impacted by their diagnosis and need more support throughout their lifespan. And there’s individuals who are less impacted who may be able to go on to live independently and require less support as they grow older. And so, how autism affects families? A child with autism, once your child receives the autism diagnosis, it affects the whole family. So it’s not just the child, it is not just the parents, it is not just the siblings, but it’s everybody. There’s grandparents involved. That family unit is affected. Their routines have to change. There’s neighbors and other members of your family and community, and all of those that you interact with, they may begin to interact with you differently, or you may be required to have to start interacting differently because of the diagnosis of autism. So that is what we will do today, is just share a few tips about how to increase supportive interactions through building that community. But life changes for everybody once the diagnosis of autism is received. And I wanted to know that therapy appointments and other services require families to establish new routines. When I’m working with my staff at Rise, I always point out to them that trying to shift their perspective about, if parents seem frustrated in the morning, we don’t know what their morning was like. The routine may have changed. Whenever their child was born, autism is, you don’t really see the signs at birth. So they’re still thinking that one day the child will attend daycare, and then go on to preschool, and further down the lines of college, or whatever it is that they will participate in, little league games, and dance recitals, and all of these things. And our children with autism can definitely still participate in those activities, but therapy appointments and other services have a place in that routine as well. So it shake things up a bit because siblings, parents may have to split the duties between one parent going to support one sibling, and the other parent is driving to therapy. And then in cases where there’s one parent, it becomes even more difficult. So then you have to enlist the support of other loved ones. So it’s important to realize the effect or the impact that autism has on the family unit. Divorce rates may be higher among couple who have a parent of child with autism. I put may be higher because there’s conflicting research, so I didn’t want to put the statistics because they may vary. But divorce rates may be higher because it does put a strain on relationships. You aren’t as comfortable dropping your child off with a babysitter, or maybe you don’t have a babysitter who interacts with your child, or they haven’t been taught best ways to engage with your child, so you don’t go anywhere. Or the financial responsibility that comes with all of the services that are involved. All of those things can put a strain on marriages, which in turn can increase the divorce rates. So that’s one challenge that our families who are married face with having a child with autism. And then the final point that I wanted to make about how autism affects families is that siblings of children with autism report higher levels of loneliness and just dissatisfaction with their social life. And not only because of parents having to split duties, and both parents may not be able to attend games, but there’s a certain level of, your siblings are your first set of friends. They’re the first ones you learn to play with, they’re the friends that are always there. In the homes, you learn to argue with them, you make up games and play games. And so, whenever we have children with autism, they may engage differently with their sibling. And on the other side of that, older and younger siblings of children with autism begin to take on responsibility even if it’s not necessarily required from the parents that they do certain things. I feel like it’s just a natural instinct to kind of cover for that sibling and make sure that they’re okay, especially those that are at the same school, they wanna make sure that they’re okay. And even in the home, not that they take on a parental role, but there is just certain a level of protector that I see with siblings of children with autism, just the interactions that should be child-to-child seems like it’s adult-to-child whenever they’re engaging with their siblings who have a diagnosis of autism. So all of these things together, I wanted to start here because it’s important for families to understand how autism affects you as a family unit so that you can use that to explain to your community how autism has affected your family. So sometimes you may be impacted in ways that you don’t even realize, that it has just become the norm that we start our mornings in a hectic way, or we eat the same thing because we don’t wanna pick a fight. So it just become the norm. So pointing out those things or just taking back and evaluating how your life is different so that you can help your loved ones understand that things are different in your household. So who is part of your community? I wanted to share the definition of community because it is not just our neighborhoods, or subdivisions, or where we live, but it’s, the first definition said that it’s a group of people living in the same place or having a particular characteristic in common. But the second definition is the one that I wanted to highlight. It’s a feeling of fellowship with others as a result of sharing common attitudes, interest, and goals. Your community may or may not be your blood family, the family that’s related to you, your immediate family, extended family. You may find community in other areas. You may find community in other parents of children with disabilities. You may find community in teachers, in the service providers. So I wanted to highlight this feeling of fellowship with others. And so, I would define community simply as those who get it. And not only those who get it, those who want to get it. So maybe they don’t understand that first, but they have a desire to understand it. We’ll talk later about how do you identify those who want to understand you and who want to help versus those who have some myths and some of their own biases towards individuals with disabilities. So your community is whoever you identify as your core unit, people that you know have your back, they get it, and they are truly supportive of your child and of your family. And that does not always mean blood relatives. So how do we begin to educate our community? We need to begin by educating ourselves about autism, by seeking resources from your doctor and other organizations. So before you are able to share information with your community, or with your family, and friends, and neighbors about autism, you need to be equipped and empowered so that you can be that advocate and that voice for your child to say like, “Hey, here’s what life looks like for my family. Here, my child is in this service or my child receives this service at school, and here’s why, here’s the end goal, here’s the challenge or the skill deficit that this therapy is addressing,” and then sharing ways that they can engage. But before you’re able to do that, it’s important that you have an understanding of autism and how it affects your child. Secondly, explaining the basics of autism spectrum disorder to individuals involved in your child’s life. So they don’t need to see the full comprehensive diagnostic evaluation. But just pulling a few pieces out of what it means to have the autism spectrum disorder, I believe, on that first slide, just highlighting those four areas and just explaining there just with four key points and what that looks like for your child, and then explaining to your family, or to your friends, or whoever it is that wants to know what it means to be impacted in those different areas. Discuss information specific to your child, including their strengths and their challenges. So whenever we talk about discussing information specific to your child, there’s a quote that we always say that whenever you have met an individual with autism, you’ve met one individual with autism. It’s a spectrum disorder. It affects people in different ways. There’s no two people that are alike. So that’s why in treatment, we in individualize treatment plans. In schools, there’s individualized education plans. And even in the home, we can have neurotypically developing children, and we have to parent them in different ways and engage and interact with them differently according to who they are as individuals. So it’s important that you describe your child in terms of who they are as a person, their likes, their dislikes, and then talk about how the diagnosis fits in. So their strengths and challenges, whenever you are talking about educating your community in order to create that support system, using the example of large family gatherings. So if your child has sensory processing disorder, or if they have sensory needs to large crowds, or loud noises, or certain textures would bother them, then that’s a challenge for them. And so, it would be important for your community to understand that if you decline an invitation, it’s not to be taken personally, it’s just that, that isn’t what works for your family unit. Or maybe coming a little bit later once the crowds die down a little bit, that’s what works for you. Birthday parties can sometimes be difficult. So, no, it’s not that we don’t want to celebrate with you, you know, happy birthday to those who celebrate, but we may not be able to handle that sitting, and waiting, and watching other children open gifts and all of the games and the sounds. They may be difficult for some children with autism, but it may not be different for the next child with autism. So it’s important to talk about how it affects your child. And then dispelling myths about individuals with autism by sharing facts. There are TV shows, and books, and movies, which I will not name, but they depict autism in a very stereotypical manner. There’s all kinds of, just things that are untrue or biased, or they may be a little bit true, but the whole show or the whole book is based off of this misconception about individuals with autism. And so, I get asked all the time like, “Oh, you work with kids with autism. Do you have any that are like super good in art or math?” And I’m like, sometimes, but those are called splinter skills. Not every child has them. Every child has their challenges, every child has their strengths. But dispelling those myths among your family members, that my child may be gifted in a certain area, but that does not take away the challenges that they have in other areas. Or my child may be challenged in multiple areas, that does not minimize their strengths. Other biases that individuals with autism want to be alone or that they prefer to not have friends. That that’s not always true. That’s a skill deficit and they may not be able to develop those relationships. So that’s what we work on either in private therapy or therapies offered through schools, and even teachers in the classroom and parents in the home, we’re all working on building those skills so that they can establish those relationships. So when a child with autism is playing alone or is engaging in a way that is inappropriate, it isn’t because they want to be alone, it’s just a behavior lacking skills is what we call it instead of, we try not to say like challenging behavior, bad behavior. It’s a skill deficit or a behavior that’s lacking those skills. Some others are that they’re aggressive, or every child with autism engages in aggressive behaviors, or they invade individual’s personal space. Though they may, there’s always an antecedent. So maybe there was a sensory issue and maybe there was a meltdown that happened as a result of that, which may involve invasion of personal space and engaging in aggressive behaviors towards others. And if they do that, it does not mean that that child loves their family members any less. That is just how, behaviors communication. And so, in that moment, they were communicating something and it’s usually that they were overwhelmed, or overstimulated, or whatever it is that they were feeling in that moment that they communicated through behaviors that they did not yet have the skills to demonstrate in a more appropriate way. The one that just, it bothers me so I always highlight this one. It’s just that if a child is non-vocal or non-verbal, meaning they don’t speak or maybe they don’t fluently use an AAC device, that they don’t understand. That is a myth, it is untrue. And so, whenever we have individuals that speak around children with autism as if they don’t understand, those aren’t people in your community or who would be the most supportive members in your community. So it’s important that they hear you and they understand. And just because they may not have the expressive language or the speaker repertoire to be able to share spoken words, it does not mean that they don’t hear you, or understand, or enjoy high fives, or fist bumps, or hugs just as like other children. And I will also request here, please, if you have any questions as I’m speaking, share them in the chat or in Q&A, and we will make sure that we get your questions answered. So other ways to educate your community. Share ways that friends and family members can engage with your child. What they may have seen work with another child with autism may not necessarily work with your child. So it’s important that you share what works with your child. “Hey, they don’t like to be touched in this way, or this works, or you have to maybe speak at a lower tone because maybe elevated voice tones bothers them or causes a sensory overload or they’re overstimulated.” So we want to just share tips that make your community feel more comfortable, because it’s not always that they don’t want to be involved, it can be intimidating and they don’t want to do anything to offend you or to offend your child. So it’s sometimes they just don’t know how to interact. So as our children’s loudest voice and biggest advocates, we can share ways that they can involve with our child by sharing their likes, their dislikes, also sharing what it is that they’re working on in therapy or in school, sharing how they can support those goals. If we’re working on increasing their play skills or working on greeting others when they enter a room, having your loved ones be able to kind of get in on some of that creates, I guess, it increases that sense of community because they feel like they’re a part of it. And they most definitely are. Every one who is involved with your child is, that’s the community. And if I didn’t say that on a previous slide, I meant to add it in, is that your community, that’s those people that will interact with your child on a regular basis, so providers, neighbors, family members, wherever you will be, and your child will see people over and over, that’s who is in your community. Invite loved ones to events that are important to your family. And that increase understanding. And so, that’s kind of given them some insight into your world. I shared some information before we started the webinar about a conference I attended. And one of the workshops was a parent panel, and it was titled “A Mile in my Moccasins.” And so, it was just giving insight to providers about parents and every everything that they are faced with, all of the challenges, all of the victories that they experienced from the time of diagnosis on through adulthood and beyond. So inviting your loved ones to take part in that, they get to see other families and hear their stories, but then they also get to see kind of you all functioning in that element too, and just have an increased understanding. And it won’t happen overnight. It may take a while for them to just get it as much as they will. But autism awareness and autism acceptance month is next month, April, tomorrow, starts autism acceptance month. And there’s several different events going on around in the local area pretty much nationwide. So if you find something in your community that aligns with your family’s values, and it’s something that you want to attend, I would encourage you to invite your defined community, whichever those individuals are or whoever those individuals are that you’ve identified, invite them to come along. If you’re going to participate in an autism walk hosted by an organization that you work closely with, or if there are podcasts or webinars such as this one, you can invite them to take part in that so that they can hear and just kind of have a glimpse into your life, then have a better understanding of how they can be supportive. So a few action steps to take. Be honest with your loved ones about statements and actions that are not supportive. I attended the webinar about, it was creating a village for your child with disabilities by Raymond Jetson. And one of the points that he made that just really stood out to me was that his daughter is an adult. And so, in through her adult life, if there were friends or family members or people in their community that spoke to her like a baby, he didn’t allow that, or he didn’t, those were people that they didn’t interact with much. And that was so important to me that he said that because those types of actions aren’t supportive. But if not pointed out, then they may never know. So being honest with your loved ones in a respectful way of saying like that, “Well, that’s not supportive. My child is an adult. You can talk for them, you don’t have to speak louder to them. If they don’t have a hearing impairment, you can talk in a normal tone, they hear you.” Also, the statements that are not supportive from individuals who may not get it. Sometimes there’s generational gaps. I spoke about that in the February webinar, about the things that we hear from our families that cause us to hesitate to seek out an autism diagnosis, because they say that all of this could be handled through discipline, or you just need to be tougher, or that child is spoiled, or maybe they don’t speak because they have, oh, it’s the baby, and so, older siblings speak for them, or he’ll talk one day or they’ll grow out of it, she’s just bossy, she needs to be taught. You know, all of these things, these traits and labels that are given to our children that are inaccurate, when it’s really just, they have a disability. And so, it’s not as a result of your parenting style, there’s not something that you’re doing wrong. So whenever you hear statements like that, when you hear something, say something. Say that, “You know, that’s really not supportive.” But then being able to combat that with facts and saying like, “This is why he or she engages in that behavior. And then here’s how we address it.” And so, equipping them and advocating at the same time. There was something else that I wanted to say that it just slipped my mind. Oh, the other point I wanted to make was also being honest about the actions that are supportive. If you have a family member or loved one who, they do something that made you feel really good, it made you feel included, it made you feel, because having families express that, this autism diagnosis can be isolating. It can cause you to feel lonely or like no one understands. And so, whenever family members, or friends, or whoever you’re around, if they do something that is supportive or say something that is supportive, let them know that as well, because they do need to know to keep going. We call it reinforcement in our field. So if there’s a behavior that they engage in that is supportive, reinforce that by saying, “Hey, thank you, that’s really supportive. We appreciate that. We appreciate you for being supportive of us.” The second one is enlist the support of a few trusted individuals. Start small. It can be difficult. You have to trust who’s with your child. You have to trust that though they may love your child, that they will interact with them and engage with them appropriately. But once you have those few trusted individuals, please enlist their support. Ask for help in ways that just start small. It doesn’t mean that you have to start by saying, “You know, can you babysit my child,” or can they stay overnight? Just start small, ask them if they can come over so that you can just have a minute, so that you can do laundry. For married couples or couples who are together in partnerships, ask for help so that you can have that time for date night, for time for yourself, time to read a book, eat a meal without it being interrupted. And I think parents of neurotypically developing children, children with disabilities, it is hard to just enjoy a meal. Like I find myself hiding sometimes just so that I won’t have to share a bite. But ask for help so that you can have that time. It’s so important to be kind to you, to give yourself grace, to give yourself grace enough to say, like, I cannot do all of this alone. You don’t have to do it alone. And your community, those who are truly supportive of you and truly in this with you, they’re willing to support you if you just tell them how. So I would say, in asking for help, ask for specific help and start small. “Can you come over for a few hours so that I can get dinner started? Can you come over so that I can take a walk around the neighborhood?” So that you’re still in close proximity to the house should you have to run back to help with the situation. But just enlisting the support of people who will come, and then if there’s anyone listening, or if you want to share with your community how they can be helpful, offer specific support. So anytime there’s a new baby in a family, whether through fostering, or adoption, or birth parents, new babies, everybody says the line is call me if you need me, I’m here if you need me, or whatever you need, let me know. And it’s like, when will I have time to let you know what I need? And so, when you can find those moments, use my previous point and be specific and honest about the help you need. But realistically, sometimes we don’t know what we need. So if you could share any piece of advice with your community about how to help, tell them to offer specific help. If they have a few hours to spare, hey girl, hey, you know, dude, I’m on the way. I can give you a few hours. I can help you out. Here’s a meal, here’s some tips, or here’s a resource that I found that I can share with you and your family. So all of those things, let them know how they can help. And then whenever they have those windows or gaps in their schedule, just let them know to offer the specific help, it’s so much easier to accept that than saying, like, call me when you need me, because then you’re a little bit hesitant. So I believe you working together with your community to be honest with one another. Maybe if something that you ask is too difficult, or they say like, “Hey, I’m not ready to babysit yet, but can I come over just to get to know your child and see how you interact with them? Maybe I can watch you guys for a few hours, so that next week, when you ask me, I’ll feel a little bit more comfortable.” So I think I probably talked too much on that slide, but I wanted to make sure that I pointed out that it is two ways. Your community has to let you know what they can realistically offer and then you have to realistically ask for what it is that you need. And then finally, I wanted to end with this quote. “Alone we can do so little, together we can do so much.” And that was by Helen Keller. Though it may feel lonely or like nobody else understands your journey, and in many ways that can be true, that no one understands what it’s like for you or what it’s like under your roof, there are so many people that are willing to listen, willing to learn. And if they’re not willing, if they are unable to completely understand because they cannot walk in your shoes, they’re willing to support you and to walk with you through that and to offer whatever help they can get. So give yourself grace, trust that you have people around you who don’t want to see you do this alone, but they just need to be equipped in order to be able to best support you. So I hope this was helpful. Here’s my reference. The student in me could not close out this presentation without this very long reference for the article that I pulled from. And so, at this point I will open the floor for questions and answers.

    [Jackie] I believe Julie’s having a little internet problem, so she had to drop off. Okay.

    [Jackie] Let’s see if we have any questions in chat at this moment. I can see some in chat. If I open the chat here, will it share my screen? Like, can you all see this on my screen?

    [Jackie] No, we shouldn’t. Okay. I just need to.

    [Jackie] The first question that we have up is, people often talk about how to fix my child. How do I respond to explain that I don’t see it that way? I think, and that that’s a really good question and a good point, sharing with your community how you view autism and how you view this diagnosis, that it’s not something that needs to be fixed. It is something that they get treatment for it and just to overcome certain barriers and to develop certain skills. But it’s not the goal to cure it or to make it go away. We just want them to have the best quality of life. So I think the best way to explain that to the members of your community who are posing this question to you as if your child is broken in some way is just to share from a parent or guardian’s perspective as the adult in their life of how you see your child, and like, “Hey, this is my goal for him. Support me, of him or her, support me in that.” Like, here’s where we are. We don’t see it as a problem that needs to be fixed. We see this as our goal is to equip our child so that our child can be supported and have the best quality of life. So whenever they hear your perspective, it can help to shift their perspective. And I feel like that’s in many different areas of life where individuals may have altered perspectives or biases that we can combat those by saying, “No, this is how it is. And then you can see it the way we see it.” Because the goals have to align. And that’s why I shared earlier that fellowship, whenever in that community definition is fellowship with others and fellowship with a common group, with common goals. And so, it’s saying like, okay, well, if this is your goal, then you can get on board with our goal for our child. Does that answer the question? [Jackie] Yes, I believe so. Before we go on to the next question, we’re gonna launch our evaluation poll since we’re getting close to the ending time. If everyone could please fill that out and give us some feedback, we would appreciate it. And I believe Julie is back. So I’ll turn it over to her to get to the next question.

    [Julie] Okay, thank you, sorry about that. My internet went down. So, Donyelle, here is another question. Someone says, “Thank you for what you said about asking for specific help. But sometimes, I don’t have time to even think about it, or what I need is something I would never ask someone else to do, like putting away 9,000 loads of laundry. Any advice?” You would be surprised at the things that people do not mind helping with. My aunt, my pantry’s a mess, it’s always a mess. It doesn’t bother me at all, like I know where the chips are when I want some. But she is like, it brings her peace. It like settles her to come in and organize my pantry. Like every three months, she just really likes to do that. So I would say to that, you’d be surprised at the things that people do not mind helping with, whether they like it or not. But then you’d be surprised at the things that you can ask for help with. And somebody just loves laundry, they color code things, there’s a certain way they fold the shirts. So I would say, you don’t know until you put it out there. And so, you might put it out there and get crickets, but then you might get, you know, somebody has this awesome laundry system at their house and they’re able to help you out. So to the first part of that question about like, having time to know what you need, that can be difficult. So sometimes just using what the little bit of quiet time you have to pick one task, maybe it’s something small before you hand off the laundry, just something small to take one thing off your plate so maybe you can focus on the thing that you were hesitant to ask for help with. But I would finish this by saying you would really be surprised at what people enjoy doing just for their own peace. [Julie] Thank you, thank you. Yeah, I’ve noticed that in my own community too, is when you ask people for help, sometimes they’ll say, “You know, thank you, I’m glad you asked me.” And I think people like to help. And sometimes I think they also know that if you ask them for help, then they can ask you for help. And it changes that relationship. So thank you for addressing that. I don’t have any more questions. Jackie, since I got bumped off, I may have lost some of them. Do you have any more questions on?

    [Jackie] No, that’s it. We do have a comment in the chat of, you know, mentioning what a great idea it is to offer specific help. [Julie] Yeah, yeah. So let’s see, I guess, I guess then, does anybody want to share some comments through the chat or maybe come off mute if Jackie can do that, and discuss? We have a couple minutes. I guess I’ll go through the, while you’re thinking about that, I will just go through the ending slides. Donyelle, if you wanna just click, yeah, maybe the next one. These are all the past webinars. Okay.

    [Julie] So, yeah. So thanks. So there are more webinars. And please go to the webinar page, we’ve put that in the chat in order to register for them, see what else we have. And also, I hope that you can take a look at our other resources because there’s a lot we have. We put some about autism, we’ll have more about autism coming soon. And I think that’s it. There’s one more slide, yeah. We wanna thank the Wilson Foundation for supporting this webinar series. They’ve been dedicated to the Baton Rouge capital area in many ways. And so, we appreciate their support for this webinar series. So if nobody has anything else, then, Donyelle, I just wanna thank you so much for your expertise and for sharing all of this with us. And I wanna thank everybody who came and attended this webinar for joining us. Having a good audience always makes for a good webinar. It does, yes, thank you all again for having me. I’m happy to share anytime. I do have a comment here that says young adults, there’s, I don’t know, I’m not sure if that was a question. But there is a webinar coming up about. [Jackie] It’s earlier in the chat, excuse me, it’s earlier in the chat, Donyelle. Okay. [Jackie] Dawn asked, “As a parent of school age kids, I’m finding myself yearning to be empty nesting.” Okay. “But it’s still a few years off. How do I be a couple with special needs adults?” Wait, I’m sorry, did you find it in the chat? I seen it, I’m trying to understand . [Julie] Yeah, Dawn, maybe if you wanna clarify that question, that might help. Yeah, it’s a whole different thing when your child, which we still call a child is really a young adult and they’re looking at, you know, a whole next phase of life. So I know that that is a whole different thing. So if you wanna clarify, Dawn, what you’re asking and what kind of advice you want from Donyelle.

    [Jackie] I have opened her mic up also.

    [Dawn] Yes, I have three boys that are 21, 22, and 22, and two are autistic. And we’re just looking for housing for them outside of our home, but they’re just not ready for being out on their own. But I’m just jealous of those people who have their children go to college and then leave the house. And I’m struggling with having special needs kids that are wanting to be on their own, but they can’t be on their own yet without services. And then also, my husband and I, we wanna, I don’t know, we’re not old, but we wanna enjoy life while we’re still young. Yeah, so to answer the first question about like the parents that have kids that are going to college at this time, if you haven’t already heard about, there are certain, there are few local universities that offer programs on campus with a lot of support for children, well, young adults with autism, or in other developmental disabilities, or any type of, it doesn’t have to be a developmental disability either. But I know for sure Nicholls State has the Bridge to Independence Program. I don’t believe the students matriculate through a degree program, but they can, I believe they have the option. But they live on campus and there is a lot of support. So there are, even if they’re not residential students, some of the local schools, they may have where they can just come for a few hours a day to earn some type of certificate. But also finding the local programs, I believe, and what I’m thinking of is pre-COVID, so I would have to check back and maybe send an email and we could disseminate that information. But pre-COVID, there were these gatherings, like the sunshine socials through BREC. And other organizations host events for young adults with autism. There’s employment opportunities, even if for a few hours a week through the state’s rehabilitation services. So there may be, and while it may not afford you the opportunity to be able to go away for a while as a couple, it may give you a few hours a week to be able to invest in yourselves and invest in your marriage.

    [Julie] Yeah, Dawn, I just wanna add, I feel you. My family is in the same boat. I have a 22 year old and it’s, yeah, it’s hard to figure out sort of the different empty nest scenario than you had anticipated. So I know that’s hard. I put in the chat some resources on our site. There’s some guidance about autism, and about transition to adulthood, and about supported living and housing. So if you wanna take a look through those, you might find something helpful. And I wish you luck with this transition. Same here.

    [Julie] Okay. I think that’s it. So, yeah, so I think we will say goodbye. Thank you again, everyone, for being here. And thank you, Donyelle, for presenting. This was really helpful and I’m sure that many of us got a lot out of it. As I said before, the recording and the transcript will be on our site in a few weeks, so check back for that. You can share it with people who you know who may have missed it. And thanks again, everyone. We will see you next week for our next webinar if you can come. Thanks, everyone. Thanks again. And bye, everyone.

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