Rosa Valledor could barely mention the word “autism” when her oldest son Sid, then age three, was diagnosed in 2003. But with help from the Care Parent Network, a nonprofit that supports parents raising children with special needs, she learned how to access services for her son and found endless support for herself as she faced the challenges of raising a son with autism.
It wasn’t long before she joined a Spanish-speaking support group, began organizing workshops for other parents who had children with autism, and was advocating at local school districts to ensure children received appropriate special education services.
When Rosa’s second son Peyton was also diagnosed with autism, she was especially grateful to be in the Care community. Although receiving a diagnosis that your child has special needs is devastating, Rosa says, it is important to “dust yourself off” and find support for you and your family immediately, “Care helped me get connected to a community I didn’t know existed.”
Here’s a photo of Rosa and her family when we featured them in our annual report back in 2006:
Rosa’s Boys Today
Next month, Rosa’s boys turn 13 and10. Sid began communicating for the first time in 2011, using a special program on an iPad. Peyton has been attending grade school in a regular classroom setting, with assistance from an aid, since kindergarten. And for the last year, Rosa has been working at Care, applying her knowledge and experience to help other parents raising children with special needs.
“When I said I wanted Peyton to attend a typical grade school setting, everyone told me ‘no’. The staff at Care were the only ones who told me it was possible, and that he could do it with an aid. Without Care, all of the opportunities my sons have had would not have been possible.”
Since 2001, First 5 Contra Costa has allocated over $2 million to the Care Parent Network to provide mentoring and supportive services for parents raising young children with special needs, and to provide trainings for community organizations about special needs issues.
Learn more about the Care Parent Network.