When my children were first diagnosed with autism, I scoured the Internet for someone who would understand. I didn’t know a single person on the spectrum at that time, and the idea of walking this path alone was frightening.
While my other friends were sympathetic and well-intended, they couldn’t fully relate. I needed to find the people who could say “I get it,” instead of the “I can’t imagine what you’re going through” comments that were being offered my way.
But special needs parenting is challenging. Among meeting the additional needs of your children, there are very few opportunities to fully care for yourself. Finding friendships and free time quickly became secondary.
Until I found my virtual village, a group of special needs mothers and fierce advocates are changing the world’s perception of special needs parenting and offering connection to searching mothers like me while doing so.
United in Autism founder, award-winning author, speaker, advocate, and Plano resident Julie Hornok, has experienced her fair share of parenting trials with her daughter Lizzie, who was diagnosed with autism at age two. From therapy to self-care, Hornok revamped her family’s entire way of life to help Lizzie, who is now a high school cheerleader captain, volleyball player, and National Honor Society member.
When Lizzie began to progress, Hornok re-focused her energy to help the moms still in the trenches. She founded United in Autism, a non-profit organization that provides free emotional-support events across the country for moms living in isolation while raising a child with autism. These moms are shown love, acceptance, and support—all vital to their confidence and self-worth.
Now more than ever, special needs moms are feeling isolated. On April 30th, 2020, United in Autism partnered with Therapy and Beyond to bring 200 special needs moms a much-needed break from the stress of quarantine. The moms were treated to comedy, prizes, an inspirational talk given by Julie, and the opportunity to support each other in small groups through Zoom.
United in Autism is now partnering with The MOCHA Tribe Diaries and Finding Cooper’s Voice to bring the largest emotional-support retreat for special needs moms in the country this fall, The Labeled and Loved Special Needs Mom Retreat. At this national retreat, moms will spend October 9-11, 2020 focusing on connecting with other special needs moms and re-connecting with themselves.
Hosted at the Wyndham Hotel on the San Antonio Riverwalk, The Labeled and Loved Special Needs Mom Retreat will offer the ultimate lifeline for special needs moms with couch talks, breakout speakers, yoga, painting, writing, cooking, coffee meet-ups, faith talks, counseling and more (there may even be a late-night dance party!).
Their mission is to take care of the caretaker by offering a space and sisterhood of women who understand. This three-day retreat is open to mothers parenting any aged child with any diagnosis.
Virtual villages have supported me so much as I’ve learned my way around autism, but there is no substitute for in-person connection. The kind where you are immediately heard, understood, and loved without exception.
Labeled and Loved: a retreat created by special needs moms for special needs moms.
The Labeled and Loved Special Needs Moms Retreat
October 9-11, 2020 | Wyndham Hotel – San Antonio Riverwalk
For more information and to register: www.labeledandloved.org