I embarked on this journey the day my wife and I decided to change roles and become parents. It has been quite a journey due to the unique challenges and joys I’ve experienced making me think what is really important in life.
I can certainly say that in the beginning things did not turn out as expected, shockingly we were introduced to a new world.
Parenthood in general changes people’s lives, raising a child with special needs turned out to be more demanding and challenging. Our son, like many others came from Planet Spectrum and on this planet social rules and behaviors are not set by the majority rather than the individual. Verbal communication is difficult and the 5 common senses are perceived and felt different by Spectrumites, health is somewhat a vague word compromising internal physiology in various aspects from individual to individual.
I have been on this journey battering with medical, educational and social systems at times the task seems overwhelming almost impossible to achieve, however as a father I go on. I will admit there are times I feel irritated, angry and depressed, what has and continues to help me are support groups most of which I’ve created myself for the lack of them.
I do realize that unlike moms men in general are not big on supporting each other, nevertheless I haven’t given up on the Idea of a fathers Support group that is why I created the Special Dads support group, for all Fathers of special needs children’s.
We meet monthly at different venues.
The setting is very casual, it’s a great opportunity for Dads to socialize and share with other Dads their views from a man’s prospective without feeling judged.
These meetings are meant to strengthen the fathers’ role as a caregiver and to learn acceptance towards our children’s diversity by sharing our personal success and struggles for fathers who are involved in their children’s lives.
In other words it’s for “Guy Talk for Fathers of Children with Autism and Other Special Needs” it provides the necessary platform for fathers to gather information and share personal insight from other fathers in the same situations.
Fathers have a lot to give to their children; some men get so depressed about dealing with the needs of a special Child that they become distant dive into their work just to escape.
I have learned that there is joy in acceptance and that although our children are different their love is unconditional and they are able to achieve greatness.
I have learned to embrace my role as a father and made it into something greater the bond I have with my son grows stronger every day, most of the activities we plan are about my son and the results are amazing, my son flourishes and continues to learn and grow in to a wonderful teenager. Over the years I’ve become a coach a mentor and a friend for my son but the most important role is being a Dad who dedicates his time for his child.
On this Journey to Planet Spectrum nothing is more precious for YOUR child than the time YOU spend together!
Founder of New Jersey Parent Advocates
■ I Started My Advocacy career in 2009 with a local Group there I held the position of Director of the Parent Advisory Board from Jan 2010 to Feb 2011
■ In 2010 I had the pleasure to meet another local Organization I held the position of program Coordinator including organizing meetings. Until March of 2012 I ran Monthly support meeting providing free parent support on navigating through the special education process by means of training and workshops these support meetings meant to empower parents and learn to self advocate for their children.
■ seeking to do more I decided to do something totally new. Something I could call my own.
I decided to create my own organization in the hope to foster a cooperative environment with other Advocates who are willing to help as many Parents as possible.
■ On March 18 2012 I founded New Jersey Parent Advocates
■ New Jersey parents’ Caucus, Inc. Professional Advocacy Training
■ SPAN: Span Resource Parent.
■ New Jersey Statewide Parent to Parent
2012 Nominated by SPAN and recipient of the Parent Anonymous Parent Leadership Award
Projects I’m currently involved with:
■ Special Olympics New Jersey, LTP coordinator February 2014 to present
As the Local Training Program Coordinator (LTP) for Area 5 Special Olympics I run a bowling team.
“Middlesex Pin Busters”
■ New Jersey Special Dads2013 to present
This group is for all Fathers of special needs children’s. For fathers who are involved in their children’s lives. In other words it’s for “Guy Talk for Fathers of Children with Autism and Other Special Needs” it will provide the necessary platform for fathers to gather information and share personal insight for other fathers in the same situation.
■ New Jersey Parent Advocates Group March 2012 to present
Our purpose is to create strong parent advocates through training, sharing of best strategies and guidance based on successful advocacy experiences. To encourage parent advocates to build and maintaining positive, collaborative partnerships with all professionals and administrators working with and for the development of their special needs child. To guide parents in developing their NJPA voices, in positive and constructive ways, at their local school district level, their county level and our state level. To work with other organizations to make positive changes for the betterment of special needs individuals as we help them meet their personal goals as they become contributing and valued members of society. To grow this organization as a known and respected entity that works to empower parents to become successful advocates for the special needs community.
■ Autism Families Group 2012 to present
This support group is for special needs families to share life experience community events and experience. This is a place where you can share your child’s achievements no matter how small or how great, a place for when you need a listening ear or a shoulder to cry. In short, any information you might think it’s important and worth sharing for the greater good of all