autism parents support group
For a child diagnosed with autism, the family unit is his or her paramount resource. Consequently, the Autism Parent Support Group was created within The Center to educate such families in the South Bronx community who were caring for a child affected by autism. The immense emotional and financial stress that having a child with autism creates was recognized, thus the group hopes to offer a source of support and hope that this extremely complex neurodevelopmental disorder can be managed with the multi-faceted support of autism specialists such as doctors, social workers, educators and peers.
The Autism Parent Support Group began in 2003 with only three mothers. Regardless of a discouraging low attendance for the first year of the Support Group, Dr. Kairam continued to hold monthly group meetings on the first Monday of every month until the group steadily grew from ten mothers, to 15, to currently 35 mothers and 3 fathers. The group is currently run by Dr. Kairam, a developmental pediatrician, Dr. Ellis Arnstein, and a pediatric social worker, Josefina Rivera. Together, they noticed an evolution from the three mothers quietly sitting and listening to him speak in their isolated respective corners of the room to parents who had been there since day one interjecting and asking if they could share personal triumphs and struggles with new parents to now cell phone numbers being exchanged for group day trips to the Bronx Zoo and places where there are “autism-friendly” barber shops in the Bronx. The group members became more than just parents all sharing a common ground of having a child with autism, but transformed into each others’ educators and shoulders to lean on.
The Autism Parent Support Group is a very powerful resource. Every month a different speaker is invited to present information ranging from legal advocacy and education to financial planning. A special education attorney, Andrew Cuddy, Esq., is also available for free legal consultation for all parents. The Support Group has created an avenue to Bronx-Lebanon Hospital Center’s Autism Treatment and Advocacy Center – Parent Support Group History of the organization, its mission statement, and a description of current activities reach out to families in the South Bronx who may not otherwise know about medical, social and legal resources that are available to them to care for a child with autism. When both mothers and fathers with similar concerns of caring for a child with autism are united, a strong sense of community is undoubtedly born.
Alexandra Meis, Clinic Coordinator
(718) 590-1800 ext. 6653 Ameis1@bronxleb.org
Josefina Rivera, Pediatric Social Worker (Speaks English/Spanish)
(718) 518-5131 ext. 7877 Joserive@bronxleb.org
Leslie Paredes, Pediatric Social Worker (Speaks English/Spanish)
(718) 579-7337 Lparedes@bronxleb.org
Autism Parent Support Group
Bronx-Lebanon Hospital Center
Murray Cohen Auditorium
1650 Grand Concourse
Bronx, NY 10457