The Battle of Autism for Our Children

We have to stand next to each other and walk together in dealing with autism in the Latino community

By Marie Olague, Rosemead, CA
Published on LatinoLA: September 15, 2008

The Battle of Autism for Our Children

Justin and Jered were diagnosed with Autism at 2 yrs. of age. During that time our family was torn apart. There were no resources available or a step by step guide to cope and help our children. Only a label of Autism and a fight for services.

I have seen many families (not minorities) get help and other services that my children never got. I realized that it was partly my fault because I mourned for so long about the diagnosis. Education played a big role in the matter. Many families believe that educators and your local regional centers will offer you help. In my experiences those are the people you never trust to help your children.

Due to the vast increase of children being diagnosed with Autism, there is a shortage of qualified staff in the schools and public offices with experience to help children with Autism.

Through my entire existence I always felt as though I had some really bad luck. I always encountered obstacles that felt at times unbearable and I could not deal with. Even though I have seven children I have always kept myself consumed with school.

My lifelong dream to become a registered nurse became a reality when I graduted from the nursing program in 2004. I had five children at the time and one in my belly and I was proud to make it through.

Being educated and a devoted mom was not enough to bring help for my twins. It is hard to say that when I finally got help I was ready to place my twins in a home for children with Autism. I ask myself today, "Why did I let anyone make me feel that way about my children?"

I hope this catches some awareness in our communities to help one another. Become an expert in Autism. Read, Read, Read...

That is what will help you in the long run with your children. To this day, I am fighting with my school district for a better placement for my children. After fighting for a year with Regional center they finally helped my children.

My children receive Behavioral therapy in my home and it has helped so much.

Even though results of success are evident, these service are being cut and are not available to minorities.

In the OC, I heard that children receive 30-40 hrs of behavioral therapy. I receive 15 hrs a week each for my boys and they have severe Autism. The principal at my children's school admitted to me that Latinos do not receive help because they do not speak up. That is why the school system is like this. I was the only one speaking out at the school.

I asked other parent of children with Autism at the school. They were pleased with the special needs class and one parent said to me that there child had been lost in the street for two hours and the school did not know where the child was at. Since I was the only Parent I was not allowed to visit my children's class. There was no apparent reason why they excluded me but there was no one to hold them accountable for thier actions. I felt helpless and wanted to contact the local paper because I never was violent or disruptive in the class.

I had school policies handed to me and it was clear there was no grounds for there actions. They believed they could get away with it and they did. Even though I complained to the Superintendent of the school District and contacted my lawyer. There was nothing done and I had to send my children to an unsafe school. I was shocked by some of the parents comments at the school.

My battle scars are deep and this message will hopefully empower others. The development and networking of Latinos is much needed in this area. I have had many experiences with Autism Speaks and Talking about Curing Autism and these organizations are great but serve a non-minority community. Where is the community involvement for our children? We have to stand next to each other and walk together in this matter.

Thank you for hearing my children's voices and we hope for a better tomorrow.

About Marie Olague, Rosemead, CA:
My little angels have taught me to Speak up and fight , never give up, Believe in yourself when others look down on you. These words run through my ears daily and remind me even though my boys do not speak this is what they would tell me.
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