Autism Support Group Bands Together Following Storm
When Hurricane Sandy hit, a tight knit support group of parents with autistic children banded together like never before. Not only did they shield their disabled children from the horrific storm, but they also had to figure out how to manage after some of their homes were left in ruins. NY1's Cheryl Wills filed the following report.
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More than a month after Hurricane Sandy, a group of moms have found a reason to laugh again. They're part of a Brooklyn-based support group called "My Time Inc." They are all parents of autistic children and when Sandy came ashore their priority was to keep their disabled children calm.
"When the light went out, that was scary because she's not accustomed to darkness so we had to hug her," said Hilrett Laird, a support group member.
There were plenty of hugs to go around as they recently sat in a semi-circle in their regular meeting space on the first floor of Holy Family School in Canarsie -- a neighborhood that saw heavy flooding. Lucina Clark is the founder of this tight-knit group. In 2004, she created the organization in the basement of her home.
And even as five feet of water destroyed the lower level of her home the executive director of "My Time Inc." remained focused on the parents and their children with special needs.
"Most of my parents are single moms with two children with autism, three children with autism. It's really difficult but finding a place where they can meet other women who are going through the same thing is so important," Clark said.
FEMA set up a disaster recovery center in the same school where the support group meets. Parents affected by the storm were not only able to get assistance right away, but they also helped serve hot meals to people in need.
"Without them and this support group, it would've been much harder on us," Laird said.
"It's very hard for each and every parent. We all have a different story and we all have a crisis that we go through," said Sonja Siewnath, a support group member.
"To have that support here - that when you leave - you feel better than when you came in," said catherine Gibbs, a support group member.
To learn more about the support group, visit www.mytimeinc.org or call 718-251-0527.