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Hope Starts Here

Dedicated to Improving the Lives of People With Autism and Their Families 

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Sarah Carrasco

Hello, my name is Sarah Carrasco, author of The Autism Helpbook. My book aims to simplify the process of obtaining a diagnosis, making sure your child receives quality education, making the most of your insurance, determining which therapies are best for your child, biomedical interventions such as the gluten/casein/soy free diet and detox, Special Needs Trusts, and much more!

My Story of Grief and Acceptance

I remember sitting in my car after working a long, difficult day. I was stuck in traffic in my beat-up 1996 Honda Accord. The air conditioner struggled to churn out semi-cooled air and the car’s radio worked only in between bumps in the road. I was hot, stressed, and plagued with worry for my son who has autism.


I was also angry. I was angry that my son suffered with what was described as “worst-case scenario for autism.” I was angry that my marriage fell apart despite my best efforts to save it. I was angry that I didn’t have babysitters. I was angry that people stared at us in public. I was angry that we had no money. I was angry about everything.


As I felt myself being consumed by anger, I forced myself to think of three positive things: one, my son David was improving every day. He was no longer violent. He was communicating with word cards and was making eye contact.


Two, after having been denied for Supplemental Security Income from the Social Security Administration (SSI) twice, a fellow autism parent explained to me how to get approved. Now, I could afford more out-of-pocket treatments that were sure to help my son.


Three, I had read an article entitled, “Daniel’s Success Story: A Determined Mother Demonstrates that Full Recovery from Autism Is Possible,” and because of that determined mother, I was starting to get my son back.


These three things helped me ease out of my bad mood. I also realized that I had support from other autism parents. Those brave mothers and fathers who came before me were my greatest asset.


As I simmered down, I lifted my head and looked up at the Subaru that stopped at the red light in front of me. It was a beautiful sunny day. The sun shone down on the car ahead of me, and the light refracted in rainbow rays. It was so unusual that I was taken aback.


To this day, I have never again seen sunbeams so distinctly brilliant as at that moment. As I marveled at the beauty of the sun’s rays, I looked down at the car’s bumper sticker. It read, “Be the change you want to see in the world.” In an instant, my anger and self-pity dissolved.


In that pivotal moment, I realized that because an autism dad took time out of his day to help me get David approved for SSI (which we desperately needed for his care), David would soon have the insurance he needed for his medical care.


It occurred to me that my son’s violent behavior had disappeared because an autism mom took time out of her day to write an article that would change the course of our lives.


That moment changed how I saw my life with autism. My perspective was changed by something as simple as a bumper sticker. My life didn’t have to be all doom and gloom; I could choose to find the silver lining. I could be bitter and angry, or I could be the change I wanted to see in the world.


In that moment, I decided that I, too, would help other families affected by autism. Life with autism can be hard, but what if I could make it just a little bit easier for families? What if I wrote a guide book for parents who have a child with autism? I would help them with resources, insurance, disability law, special education services, therapy options, special diets, and biomedical interventions.


I could be the person I wished I had had with me on my worst days. I could be other autism parents’ faraway best friend. I would walk them through the dynamics of changing relationships in the face of an autism diagnosis. I would tell them that it is okay and often necessary to grieve. I would tell them how to pick up the pieces of their lives and make them whole again. I would be the mentor I had so

desperately needed. 

Moving Past the Grief

I, like many, if not most, parents of children with autism, went through a grieving period. I grieved for David’s pain and his inability to tell me he was in pain. I grieved for the time he lost playing with other children and his inability to play with me. I grieved for my parents because it was hard for them too. I grieved for myself and the hardship I had endured fighting with doctors, nurses, and insurance companies.

 

I allowed myself to feel the grief that was tugging at me all the time. It is important to give yourself time to grieve. There is no shame in it. You need time to accept the diagnosis and time to be sad once in a while. It can be sad, and pretending it isn’t won’t help anyone, including

your child.


I still have days when it hits me like a ton of bricks. I am still adjusting, but I am rarely consumed by the grief. It’s just part of my life now. It is emotionally healthy to see things for what they are and then find a way to make the best of it.

 

That is really what I want to convey: I want other parents to know that it’s okay to feel that sadness for a while, but it passes. The grieving process is undeniably hard and it is continuous, but it is of the utmost importance that you allow yourself time to grieve. It is not weak.

 

You are not feeling sorry for yourself. You are not taking on the role of a victim. You are not wrong to grieve. It is the hardest thing I’ve ever had to accept. I spent many years telling myself that it would all go away, that this isn’t happening, that David’s symptoms would

suddenly disappear.


I was in denial for a long time, partly because I didn’t want him to suffer and partly because I knew the emotions that were sure to come with the diagnosis would be sharp and brutally painful. But it wasn’t until I accepted the diagnosis and grieved that I was able to accept him for the awesome little man that he is.

 

The truth is that David is one of my favorite people in the world. He is pure, innocent, and sweet; he is an example of how people should be. It wasn’t until I accepted the diagnosis of autism and gave myself time to grieve that I really appreciated David. He is amazing and is just perfect the way he is.

Mission Statement

It has been 12 years since my son received a diagnosis of autism. I have now learned how to navigate systems of care, private insurance, Medicaid waivers, CCBs, and special education law. I also spent years researching biomedical interventions and therapy options, as well as learned how the American's with Disabilities Act can benefit David.

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With the years I spent doing research, I realized that I wasted time which I could have focused on early interventions for my son. This inspired me to write my own book, The Autism Helpbook.


Its purpose is to save parents time and energy so they can hit the ground running and get their child the resources and therapies they need early on.

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Purchase The Autism Helpbook