To Whom It May Concern:
My name is Charlotte Quevedo, and I am the mother of a 2 1/2 year old, Paulino Israel Quevedo, who was diagnosed with autism on January 27, 2009. Neither my family nor my husband’s knew anything about autism spectrum disorders and so it has been up to me to get all the information I could find to help my son. My son’s grandparents live far apart, and so we have been living on our own in Sultan, Washington, without sufficient socialization and feeling of belonging to the community. When my son got the diagnosis, I suffered extreme depression because I was isolated, feeling intellectually incapable of understanding my new responsibilities, and lacking close friends and family support.
Shortly after my son’s diagnosis, I went through the paperwork his doctor gave me, and found some important information that helped change my life. I made a phone call to the Arc of Snohomish County, met Jessica Atkins, and then was connected to another wonderful woman, Cynthia Weissinger. From there I was invited to birthday parties and have been notified of all the support group functions and events. This has been extremely priceless for me, as my family has been struggling financially, and we can’t afford counseling services for ourselves to cope with the depression (so therefore, friendship has been a powerful source of healing). While we have lost assets in the past few months, we have gained something so much more in terms of quality of life. We feel like we have friends we can turn to, and that is priceless. I have people I can talk to when I feel upset, people who won’t tell me that my problems aren’t real. Having other parents to socialize with and help us find out what all of our financial options are has strengthened our marriage as well. Instead of two isolated adults with a special needs child, we are now in a huge family with other people who seem to have experienced everything we are going through.
Nevertheless, I still have many worries in regards to how I can help my son. I am not capable of working full time, and so my husband is struggling to help us pay for my son’s diet and health care costs. Having people around to support us has led us to find opportunities to broaden our options for treatment. Needless to say, families with special needs children need a network for socialization and information on treatment and financial assistance. Without that network, it will be especially difficult for families who live in smaller cities, like Sultan. Our children deserve just as much opportunity to exceed and live a happy life as children who are born to more fortunate situations.
Charlotte Quevedo, Sultan, WA