“Some of our families have twins or triplets with a diagnosis of autism, which is even more challenging. They come in stressed. Parents of children with autism are some strong people. It’s very difficult. They want to know when their child is upset, and if a child can’t tell them that something hurts or that they’re thirsty or that they need to go to the bathroom, then it’s frustrating for everybody. We want to make families’ everyday lives better by helping the parents and children learn how to communicate with each other, either verbally or through the use of technology devices like iPads or iPhones. There are lots of apps where the kids can punch buttons and answer questions. Once they can do that, a lot of the stress goes away and then they can move on to the next thing.
“If you see a family whose child has a developmental disability, don’t stare or judge. If the mom is struggling with her child in the grocery store, which you see often, maybe having a meltdown, people tend to think, ‘Well, that mom’s just letting that kid get away with everything.’ Maybe take a step back and think, ‘That child may be struggling with a disability and mom’s doing all she can to calm him down so she can buy some groceries.’ I think just being more open-minded and sensitive to what’s going on with people is helpful. That’s with anybody, but particularly with children who have disabilities. You might offer to help: maybe step out and let them go ahead of you if you’re in a long line at Target. Just be compassionate.
“I love listening to our families and helping them, and I love seeing our kids make progress. I may get lost in my office doing boring administrative tasks and grant-writing all day long, but when I’m able to step out and be with the children, I remember why I do this.”
"Our program consists of specialized education and therapeutic services for children age 18 months through kindergarten who have a diagnosed developmental disability or are experiencing delays in their development or have behavior challenges...Harwood specializes with children with developmental & behavioral challenges and who have diagnoses such as autism, Down syndrome, cerebral palsy, speech, language & processing disorders, physical & gross motor disorders, prematurity, behavioral disorders, and many other developmental disabilities. Its three locations (Downtown Medical District, East Memphis & Cordova locations permit Harwood to serve children from all areas of Shelby, surrounding counties in West Tennessee as well as Mississippi & Arkansas."
Harwood Center, 711 Jefferson Avenue (private nonprofit agency)
Website: Harwood Center
The Commercial Appeal: Memphis Harwood Center for children with developmental delays open to all now (9/8/13)