Wed, 17 Jul 2019

BOSTON, MA / ACCESSWIRE / May 12, 2019 / Moms are great, but can we agree that some are exceptional?

On Saturday, when Esteban Barriga graduated from Service Warriors - a leadership program for young people with disabilities - it marked a tremendous milestone for not only him, but the true warrior in his life his mom. For 22 years (and counting!) Maribel has been Esteban's champion and advocate, providing the nurturing, love and support that has helped Esteban, who has Autism, to find his path in life and contribute to his community. What makes this mom even more extraordinary is that she doesn't stop at her own kid.

Esteban and Maribel at their home in Boston.

Unable to speak until he was 11 years old, time and time again, Maribel was told that her son would never be independent; would never work; would never get a college degree... never, never, never! And part of her thought maybe those people were right. Maybe he would never have friends. Maybe he would always have a temper-tantrum whenever he was served a glass of water with ice (he hates ice) at a restaurant. Maybe he would never be confident or able to communicate his ideas or stand up for himself. True to the character of any mom who loves her son, she never relented. She sought out every resource, every learning opportunity, every expert to help her son. The boy who at one time could barely say 'hi' to a stranger developed the skill and the gumption to ask Ellen (DeGeneres) to his prom via a custom-video! Esteban never heard back from Ellen, but the accomplishments kept coming. He graduated high school and enrolled in Mass Bay College studying history and sociology. He got a full-time job. He has friends, All, thanks to an extraordinary mom.

Parents from AGW's Autism Support Group

In 2012, after years of struggling to navigate a confusing system designed, ostensibly, to help children with developmental disabilities, Maribel started Autism Geniuses of the World (AGW). Her goal was to help other families experiencing challenges similar to her own - and by-golly has she ever! Through support groups in the Greater Boston area, trainings and advocacy, she has helped hundreds of other moms to get specialized educational services for their Autistic children, enroll them in job and life skills training, and to build bridges with their communities. She and her team of moms have gone as far as Guatemala to help improve the lives of families of children with Autism. Seven years later it is crystal clear that the efforts of Maribel and the other moms have made a tremendous difference. Esteban is a true reflection of how far our community has progressed.

Maribel and her partner Eduardo Vazquez celebrating with Esteban his graduation

Where would any of us be without our moms? Being the mom of an Autistic genius can be particularly challenging - from the looks in the supermarket when a 12-year old child has a meltdown, to the whispers or overt remarks of other diners in a restaurant who don't understand the reasons for a child's seeming unruliness. Moms of a child with Autism have to be continually vigilant to ensure their child gets the specialized educational and out-of-school support they need and are entitled to. It is not easy. It is exhausting. And the experience can be lonely and isolating. AGW is committed to changing this paradigm.

Esteban graduates from Service Warriors.

One of the most difficult time-periods for families raising an Autistic child is the transition to adulthood, because many services are no longer available after the age of 18. It can be a scary time for everyone involved. But it need not be! There are still many services available - from life-skills training to job-coaching to transportation - that families can and should access. But where to begin? Many parents often do not know which agencies to contact, what their rights are, or how to advocate for their child. Does this sound like your situation? If so, AGW can help. Our bilingual (Spanish and English) mentors and coaches can help you create a roadmap for your child as you progress on this journey from childhood to adulthood. Please join our support group, held from 12-2pm at the Jamaica Plain Library on the last Saturday of every month. To register call Maribel at 978 908 8900.

Happy Mother's Day to all the Mom's out there who love their children to the moon and back.

Contact: Maribel Rueda; maribel@autismgeniuses.org; 978-908-8900

SOURCE: Autism Geniuses of the World

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