Five-year-old Lorenzo loves to play with robots and build things, enjoys singing, dancing and drawing and the outdoors. He’s compassionate, always giving, and very protective of his younger brother Antonio. Antonio, who is 18 months younger than Lorenzo, is fascinated by Mr. Potato Head and all things Toy Story. He enjoys playing video games, listening to music, and drawing. Their mother Ciera says, “anyone that knows Antonio will say he marches to his own beat. He’s creative, determined and has a contagious smile.”
Both boys are nonverbal and on the Autism Spectrum. Recently, Lorenzo was diagnosed with ADHD and recommended for Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) Therapy. Caring for the boys is a lot for Ciera, who is a single mom. Recognizing Ciera needed some respite and support, the pediatrician’s office referred the family to VIPhysicians&Kids at The Coordinating Center.
Ciera says that it is lonely and overwhelming at times, especially since her boys are non-verbal. The boys use an AT Device which is helpful, but it has its limitations. “No one explains the challenges ahead. I get anxiety about them being safe. I worry about elopement. I also never thought that I would continue to make sacrifices between having a career and taking care of my children. I never thought my family could face eviction because people don’t understand that Autistic children can be loud. Most neurotypical people don’t understand Autism and don’t realize that finding childcare is difficult.”
“I am very grateful and blessed to have the opportunity to work with the VIPhysicians&Kids Care Team over the past three years. VIPhysicians&Kids focuses on the wellness of my children, but also myself as their caregiver and advocate to ensure that my family continues to thrive,” said Ciera. Working with The Coordinating Center, Ciera and her boys gained access to a wide range of supports and services, such as a Parent Advocate for help with IEP meetings, recreational activities and groups, ABA services, toileting tips, elopement prevention, support groups for special needs families, therapy and service dog resources, respite, summer camps, advance planning, legal guardianship resources, disability legal services, childcare, medical assistance, utility and rental assistance, eviction prevention, first-time home buyers program and career guidance for mom. Through The Coordinating Center’s Family Resource Fund, the boys will soon have the opportunity to participate in swim lessons and learn an important life skill- that of swimming.
“Everyone at The Coordinating Center is about helping the family and kids. If you have questions don’t feel like you can’t ask a question. Be a part of the process, let them support you and your kids.” Ciera says journaling helps her calm the loud noises in my head when she is feeling overwhelmed. A quote that she lives by is this: “If you can’t figure out your purpose, figure out your passion. For your passion will lead you right into your purpose.” — Bishop T.D. Jakes 13.