The reason behind our mission.....a parent's story
A native of Southern California, an Army Veteran, a former Special Education teacher, and a mother of a child with Autism. I received a BS in Special Education with a minor in psychology, a Masters's in Human Service Counseling, and Ed.D Community Care & Counseling: Traumatology from Liberty University. Currently a Behavior Therapist for a great company. Throughout my time in the military, I’ve traveled all over the globe. My son was in an after-school program and he loved it until he aged out at 12. There were no exceptions for those with disabilities. He was then directed to the local Rec Center. During this time I’ve experienced limited programs to non-existing programs for children with ASD over the age of 12. As a mother of a child with autism, it was heartbreaking. I remember taking my son to the local Rec Center to play basketball. I was told by the center because of his disability he could not be present without supervision. My son, age 13 then, asked me to leave as nicely as he could. He did not fully understand why I could not leave him there. It didn’t surprise me that he noticed that I was the only parent there. He wanted to hang out with kids his age without his shadow, his mom. What teen do you know wants to be followed around by their parent? None that I can think of. What I have come to realize is that although children may have autism they are still human. They have the same needs and wants as the rest of us, to be able to be themselves and to fit in. Don't get me wrong local Rec Centers welcome children with disabilities, the problem lies in the understanding and training needed to handle their needs. My son was a teen and he wanted to be treated as one, not like a child with a disability. He wanted to be accepted without judgment by his peers. I searched for programs that would allow him to be independent while being monitored, but there was no such program. I then teamed up with like-minded people to create a solution to this unaddressed need. SAYDC, or Social Acceptance Youth Development Centers, will allow children to hang out, receive tutoring, build social skills by making new and lifelong friends, prepare for college, and participate in after-school programs like; art clubs, music clubs, sports clubs, etc. all in a structured environment that caters to their individual needs. I believe that given the right opportunities these children will soar with unlimited possibilities of a bright future. My passion is to enhance the lives of children with ASD, removing the limitations set by society.
For my loving son.