Updated: Dec 11, 2019
I had the privilege of being a Family Support Partner (FSP) for the A. family for the past three years through ASK Family Services in Kalamazoo, MI. Jessica has two elementary age children on the autism spectrum. I have two young adult children on the autism spectrum and was able to understand the situations she encounters with her children and provide hope for the future.
Currently, her family receives ABA therapy services through the community mental health system and special education through the school system. Jessica will admit that she did not trust the system at first, but now feels comfortable navigating and advocating in the various systems for her children’s needs. Both children attend a self-contained special education classroom in the regular school setting. At times, she may have included an educational advocate at school meetings, but she continues to have a positive relationship with the school team.
I have seen incredible growth in Jessica in the past three years. She was very negative about her own parenting and often overwhelmed with all the needs. Now I see a strong, sensitive single mother who would do anything for her children, and she has learned the importance of self-care. Making sure she is taking care of herself helps her be the “best” for her children. Jessica has developed a strong, natural support network through her church, friends and community members.
I have also seen her children flourish in the programs they attend and from the attention they receive from their mother, workers and natural supports. Her children participate in activities such as Special Olympics, horseback riding and camp programs. She has also done a wonderful job of immersing herself in the community by going to the library, church and various local events.
Most importantly, Jessica delights in her children and accepts them for who they are. Even at times when this presents challenges, her sense of humor helps and is so refreshing. I am so impressed with her own development and creativity. She has overcome challenges from her past, participates in her own activities and interests and knows when to set limits. She often utilizes respite care with a friend of the family so she can pursue her own interests.
It is a special bond when I can encourage a parent with similar experiences. We love sharing our families’ experiences and I look forward to what the future holds.
Tasha and her family began a partnership with ASK Family Services, she did not see an end to the “chaos” her family was experiencing. Her daughter was having challenges at home and in the community. Tasha was overwhelmed and lost her self-confidence as a parent.
Their family quickly became involved in several systems and services. One of the services they received came in the form of Peer Support. Robin, a Family Support Partner at ASK Family Services, joined the family’s treatment team. As a parent of a child who has experienced mental health challenges, Robin understood what Tasha and her family were going through. Robin was able to provide emotional support to Tasha, help her navigate the different systems and help her find her voice in her family’s care.
The team worked with the family as a whole to help Tasha learn the skills needed to help her family move toward a better place. Today, her daughter attends school regularly and is able to communicate with her mother in a positive manner.
Tasha demonstrates improved self-confidence, has learned the importance of self-care and developed new parenting strategies. She now sees her family has having respect for each other, and her home environment has greatly improved. Tasha states “I’m not where I want to be yet, but I am farther than I thought I would be. I am excited for where I am going.”