From Ken Money

I knew that being a father would not be easy. But I was ready for the challenge. My son is kind hearted and curious but easily frustrated and prone to bite or punch when he feels like he is being misunderstood.

As our beautiful boy got older, he asked questions like any small child, but his questions were more intense.

He was never satisfied with the answers we gave. It wasn’t enough to say that the character in a book was a dinosaur. He had to know what kind of dinosaur. Why was there a dinosaur in history at all? Why couldn’t it be something else? We knew something was different but didn’t know what to do about it.

His mother and I spent his early years taking him from one day care center to another. Our son would be labeled a “naughty child” and we would have to find a new place.

Every time we thought we had found the right place and the staff had extensive experience working with “spirited” children, we loved it. But the call always came. “It is time for you to look for a new daycare center. Your son is not welcome here. “

We knew we needed help and looked everywhere for answers.

We knew he needed to see a specialist, but screening can be expensive and our insurance didn’t cover it. We felt like terrible parents.

After speaking to more professionals than I can remember and visiting agencies specializing in behavioral health, we were referred to the Jewish Family & Children’s Service.

We were not Jews, but like their mission states, they work with families of all faiths and we were welcomed with open arms. The staff were understanding and offered compassionate care without judgment.

We were finally on the right track and met with professionals who could help our son.

After a series of behavioral analysis tests, our son was diagnosed with ADHD and autism. We were so grateful for an answer when the diagnosis opened the door to specialists, therapy and self-help groups.

JFCS worked with school administrators and counselors on our cause to ensure our son was evaluated for an individual education program. Today he has access to an occupational therapist, a psychologist and the extra help he needs.

JFCS also helped us get into a parent support group. It was a lifesaver teaching us how to treat and respond to our son. I now know how to tell when he’s frustrated or needs time alone.

I share our story because I want other parents to know they are not alone. There is hope and agencies like Jewish Family & Children’s Service can help. If you don’t get the answers you need at first, keep trying. Don’t take no for an answer and always be an advocate for your child.

April is Autism Awareness Month. It’s a month to raise awareness and celebrate our beautiful children. It is a time to campaign for compassion, acceptance, and inclusion so that our children can have:

• Access to equal opportunities.

• A fair chance to attend school, regardless of their ability or level of development.

• Access to therapy and counseling in the public health or education system.

• The ability to go public without people staring at and judging you or your parents.

• Access to the tools for intellectual, physical and spiritual development so that they can grow up and contribute to society.

The past few years have been challenging, but people continue to help and support us.

I say thank you to you. And I offer encouragement to others who have problems.

You can do it.

Ken Money lives in Surprise.