Parents of Valley Children with Autism See Benefits of Support Group

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BROWNSVILLE - A Brownsville mother of a child with autism said support groups offer tips or serenity no doctor can offer. She said social media is also helping members of these support groups stay in contact.

Susy Perez said she feels good every time she walks out of a support group. She said she learns from other parents of children with autism and often ends up talking with them for hours.

Perez said dealing with her developmentally disabled child every day brings about a new challenge. She said she needs guidance from others who have been in the same boat. 

"We feel that we understand each other. Sometimes you talk about it with your family or with somebody that's not going through it. And they try their best to give us advice but sometimes, it's not until you go through it that you understand," said Perez.

Perez said her support group of around 40 members meets face-to-face once a month. But, in the era of social media, the group can easily keep in contact with each other online.

"We have play dates. We do have a Facebook page where we communicate constantly. And if somebody's going to the park, 'Hey, I'm going to the park. Does anybody want to join?' And we get together and we just have an afternoon with the kids," she added.

Lisa Becerra heads up a Valley support group for disabled children known as Team Mario. She said these support groups are not just a breath of fresh air for parents of disabled children, but it teaches them how to handle themselves in public.

"We invite families and we help them with their children. Usually they don't go out because their child has difficulty transitioning to the environment or certain behaviors," she said.

Becerra said support groups help parents learn to do things like take their child out to places such as restaurants, the movie theater or the zoo.

Becerra added children with intellectual disabilities benefit from being in an environment, such as a support group, because they find the community is accepting. She said it helps a child transition into a typical environment.

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