my son Jacob

Years ago, when my son Jacob was first diagnosed with autism, Marion County was a wasteland for special needs families. There was support or services specifically for parents of children with autism. My husband and I were quite at a loss how to even start to get help. The world of autism is a lonely place. Family and friends can be there for you, but they really can’t help. We had to find our way alone. Services were sparse in Marion County at that time and I drove as far as Seminole County weekly to get help for Jacob. After several years of doctors’ visits, therapists, insurance fights IEP fights, etc. we kept on saying how nice it would be if there were a guide in Marion County, “The ABCs after diagnosis.” Now we have that guide. Karen Vega and the Outreach autism Services Network staff have developed a guide for the Best Outcomes™ Resource Guide. In addition, Karen (and her staff) have held the hand of many a distraught parent and led them through the maze of insurance, therapies, and school issues. She is a constant source of encouragement and advice and only a phone call away. OaSN has developed community amongst the families of children with ASD. From the Facebook support group, to the various services, I no longer feel alone. The respite care that OaSN provides (FOR FREE!) has been invaluable to me. As a homeschool mom who works full time from home as well as homeschooling a child with special needs, I rarely get time to just be: this respite time is precious to me and I know my son is well cared for with the staff that has been screened by OsSN. We also love the classes: art, yoga, etc. where my son can participate without fear, all provided free of charge by OsSN. We also received swimming lessons from OASN which have made my boy a little fish and given him much pleasure all summer and much more peace of mind to mama. The many little things that OsSN provides do so much to lift my heart such as providing allergy free foods at Christmas time for families with children like my son who have multiple food allergies and presents for the children. Many children with ASD, including mine, have co-morbid medical issues and with so much money going to doctors and medicines, these gifts are well appreciated. Thank you OaSN for all you do and the blessing you have been to my family!