Growing up, our house was always filled with Angie’s therapy and academic resources. Even the tea set that she constantly engaged in a sensory water play activity. My parents did everything and anything to help Angie, but more importantly, we helped her as a family.
Our journey in Autism is what inspired me to helping families. Whether it was my days in camp, preschools, hospitals, therapy centers, best buddies, college programs and then opening up our family dream of having a pediatric therapy office, Pieces of Inspiration. I wanted to give back to our community, just like our community was there for us.
I remember our life being a routine of morning gross motor activities before school, therapy after school, doing my homework in the therapy office waiting room, to then more gross motor activities, exposing Angie to food activities during dinner and then sensory routines at night to help her sleep. Our home was filled with schedules, communication resources, a big backyard and lists of toys to buy for Angie that therapists suggested.
The way my parents set up our home, was how I wanted to help other families of children with Autism. I wanted them to understand how and why designing their home to impact the developmental of their child was important not just towards their child’s progress, but to the lifestyle of a family.
Years went by of working as a team, to then our family life being torn apart. My parents marriage fell apart, our home life fell apart and the relationship Angie and I had with our dad, was gone.
Angie, my sister, was 21 and I was 22 years old when our father left. Up until that point, he was the stay-at-home dad that made sure Angie was at every therapy session, was there for every event I hosted for Autism families and worked hard to strengthen our sibling bond. My mom worked three jobs to put me through school, pay for Angie’s therapy sessions and give us a life she never had growing up. My parents were my superheroes.
I was I had an explanation of WHY he left, but I don’t. All I know is that his feelings for another woman were greater than the love he had for his own daughters. I have no idea how a parent chooses another family over their own.
Its been 6 years since Angie and I have heard from our dad. The last phone call and last words my dad told me were:
- I’ll never walk you down the aisle
- Your kids will never meet me
- I wish I never had you
- Pieces of Inspiration won’t be anything without me
- Tell Angie I died in a motorcycle accident
Angie and I dealt with the loss of our dad differently, but I was the only one who understood what happened. Angie saw him one day walk out the door and never return.
Four years later, the topic of guardianship came up. My mom and I had to realize our reality, our dad wasn’t coming back. It was no question in my mind of whether I wanted to take on the responsibility of becoming Angie’s guardian. If something ever happened to my mom, I was all Angie had left who knew how to help her.
I started thinking about how I was going to help support Angie. What would my home need to look like? How much money do I need to make a year to support us? What community support would I have? How could I balance work and home life to not only support Angie in the future, but the day I have children of my own. If there’s one thing every family member of a child with autism has in common, is anxiety of the future.
Our father’s abandonment gave us heartache, but if I can take our heartache and shift my mindset into what positive lesson I could take from this, is this:
“Our mindset is what impacts the development of our special loved one and a family’s love is what empowers it.” – Natalie Castro
Our story inspired me to create Autism Friendly Homes to target three goals: Target a child’s developmental goals, impact the bond of siblings and promote a positive family lifestyle.
Next weeks article goes in depth of “HOW” I am creating Autism Family Homes. Subscribe to our newsletter for more inspiration, resources and upcoming events on how you can impact your child’s development.
Friends, thank you for reading our story! Angie and I would love it if you helped share our story to connect with more families in our Autism community. Our mission is to empower, inspire and support you during your Autism journey!