“You have a place where you can feel at home and understood.”

When Tracie Hoppis approached me this year and asked me to write an article about my daughter Emma and what Valley Parents and Children’s Village has meant to us, I was delighted!

Hi!  My name is Sue and I am a single mom to Emma and Lane.  Emma is 8 years old and was diagnosed in 2006 with Autism.  We have always known that Emma was developmentally delayed but having a firm diagnosis has really helped us access services.  When Emma was 4, I joined Valley Parents. Valley Parents is a group of moms and dads who have kids with special needs- they get together to talk, laugh, learn and sometimes cry.  When I first attended, I wasn’t sure what to expect and even asked my mother to attend with me.  I soon found out that I wasn’t alone and that there were other families who shared my same journey through life.  We all think that we have it the roughest until we hear someone’s story of day to day challenges, then stand back and say to yourself…. “maybe I don’t have it so bad”.  Don’t get me wrong, we have good days and bad days, but we learn something from EVERY ONE of them!  Valley Parents has been a blessing to us.  I encourage EACH of you who have not tried one of the Parent to Parent groups to just come and see what they’re like.  You don’t have to talk if you don’t want to BUT you can listen and be amazed at how many of the same challenges other families have that are just like yours.  I guarantee you will enjoy it and come away with NEW information from parents who have “been there”.  We all have challenges with the systems: SSI, Medical Coupons, General Insurance, and School.  I am speaking from experience when I say that there are people in EACH of these groups that have some great insight to share on these topics and others.  I’ve learned at Valley Parents that no matter how big or small your challenge is with your child, rest assured from someone who has been there, you have a place where you can feel at home and understood.

In addition to Valley Parents, we’ve been involved in another program through Parent to Parent called one 2 one.  It warms my heart to attend one 2 one’s Slug Bug group every Saturday.  We just finished playing three months of basketball and Emma has come along way.  The first time we went to Slug Bugs when Emma was 6 years old she didn’t want to participate.  But you know what, that was okay.  If she wanted to run laps during basketball or run the field during baseball and participate here and there, it was all acceptable.  We feel welcomed with open arms in all of these activities. Today, Emma has become more participative in all of the activities.  It gives her (and mom) a chance to exercise and spend some very important one on one time together.  Parent to Parent’s one 2 one program also has a great group of teenage mentors who get out there and work with the children.

- Sue Fate, Yakima, WA