Just for Me: Contributed by Mireya Martinez

When my daughter, Bianca, was younger it felt as though only families who were wealthy were able to provide for all of the needs of their children with autism, and families like mine simply were not. Expensive therapies, special diets, special schools, you name it, were all unobtainable for me and my girls. I have always been a person, however, who takes the time and effort to count blessings.

In a world of haves and have-nots, most would categorize me as a “have-not”. I have known what it means to be poor. I worked hard, obtained college degrees and started on a new path in a career working for the Federal Government. I then found myself divorced, however, and raising two girls on my own, one of which with special needs. Once again, I learned how difficult it was for our family to feel financially secure. I became a single mother who, more often than not, worried about how we would pay for groceries.

But I have blessings; I now have two grown daughters who love me and love one another fiercely. My daughter, who is on the spectrum, has benefited from the protection, influence and joy she has had in large part due to her younger sister who is not on the autism spectrum. We have formed strong bonds with school, clinical and public agency staff, and we are thankful that they want to help. As I transitioned from my previous line of work to working in the disability field, I have had access to expert opinions and resources that I would not have had otherwise

Yet, with a transition-age child aging out of the public school system, we can’t help but feel like “have-nots” given the options available for a young woman in Bianca’s situation. I’ve done the work by planning for the elusive “transition” for several years with staff, touring the day and vocational programs, participating in the person-centered planning meetings with Bianca as well as listening and heeding to her wishes. The fact remains, however, that the lists of “things to do” for someone like Bianca are limited; so we decided to create our own.

To support this effort, I am proud to launch the Just For Me social club. The idea is to help people with autism prepare and get ready for the rest of their lives as well as offer a network and valuable friendships along the way.

Hosted at the Ford Resource & Engagement Center, 2826 Bagley St. Detroit.

Remaining 2019 Meetings 4:00-7:00 p.m. on:

  • May 18,
  • June 22,
  • July 13,
  • August 24,
  • September 28,
  • October 26,
  • November 16,
  • December 21.

RSVP: 313.720.9700