When the Autism Alliance of Michigan launched our MiNavigator program in the beginning of 2015, there was concern that our Autism Navigator Specialists, most of whom had worked for twenty years in the field of autism providing direct care for patients, individuals, and families with autism, may feel ‘detached’ from the families we serve providing many services remotely or by phone.
Yet the other day, toward the end of a conversation between a mom from the Grand Rapids area and her navigator, she laughingly said “oops, I almost said ‘I love you,’ and if that wasn’t socially inappropriate I would have meant it.”
You see, the Navigator had been talking to the mom every couple of days for over a month while her son was in and out of hospitals, psychiatric units, and home, over a period of crisis when her son’s behavior had escalated as we sometimes see during the adolescent years. As the mother described, her Navigator was the only one of many involved who knew all of the “bits and pieces,” admission history, medication issues, insurance obstacles, personal fears of bankruptcy throughout the process, and the significant toll on a marriage and a family when one is suddenly afraid of their own son but don’t want to lose him. For the Navigator, her very best day on the job yet was when she received a call from this same teenage boy calling to say he was out and having a great day at the water park.
It is true that MiNavigator offers web resources, including a navigation tool and an online Neighborhood Directory of statewide autism providers, and does a majority of communication by phone and email. However we have also had many amazing opportunities to meet families face to face with outreach, parent training, safety and awareness training. MiNavigator has served over 300 callers, ranging from quick insurance or resource questions pointing to answers, parents, educators, and providers who call because they need a partner to talk to, to families who need a strong navigator and advocate for what is the most stressful times of their lives.
MiNavigator is proud to serve autism families and providers statewide, having visited and served in all regions of Michigan. The mission of the Autism Alliance is to help remove obstacles and barriers across the state. Our team, our Board of Directors, and our supporters, help us to do that on a larger scale. Our MiNavigator program allows us to do that one resilient, amazing, heroic family at a time.
Please call (877) 463-AAOM to tell us how we can help Navigate in your part of the autism world.