Friday, May 15, 2009

Candlelight Speech by Kim Mack Rosenberg

Thank you, Dara.

As Dara said, my name is Kim Mack Rosenberg. I would like to welcome all of you here both personally and on behalf of the New York Metro Chapter of the National Autism Association. Our president Sabeeha Rehman would normally be delivering these remarks however she is out of the country. She is with us in spirit and sends her thanks to all of you for coming out to honor our children.

For those of you not familiar with us, our chapter is a non-profit, all-volunteer organization that serves New York and the surrounding counties. We have been in existence about a year and have accomplished much in that time. I just wanted to quickly tell you about some of what we do. Information about our programs and events is on our website at -- and you can link to our blog from there as well.

First and foremost, we are here to serve and support families who are affected by autism. To do so, we strive to bring families information on a wide variety of topics -- some traditional and some more cutting edge.

We hold monthly educational sessions and we have attracted wonderful local as well as national speakers on a variety of topics – everything from homeopathy to special needs financial planning. We also hold monthly Parent Network Exchange Meetings, which are less formal and are more like moderated discussion groups – usually led by a professional on whatever that month’s chosen topic is. These meetings have covered everything from nutrition to tax issues.We have a free parent mentoring program where we strive to connect families in need with a parent who is suited best to helping them.

We will be hosting a family fun day at Muskoot Farms in Westchester on May 30. Information is on our website and this will be a great day with lots of activities planned for children with special needs as well as for their siblings. Like last year, this October we will again co-host a 2 day autism conference with an exciting line up of nationally renowned speakers. I am very proud to be a part of this organization and honored to work closely with the parents, grandparents and professionals who are involved. It is a labor of love for each of us. I do this for my son Henry who, while he still has many struggles ahead, has made great progress. We work hard every day to ensure that Henry is getting the appropriate interventions.

Just this Sunday in the New York Times, there was an article about a family struggling to find an appropriate educational placement for their daughter and struggling with the tremendous cost of the appropriate placement they found. The final sentence of that article struck home with me and I would like to share it with you all -- I am guessing it will resonate with each of you as well. Ruby’s mom said:
“When you have a child like Ruby, you realize how much of a role you have to play in that outcome, how involved you have to be to affect that outcome — especially early on, when the stakes are so very high.”
We are here tonight because we recognize that we must each be our child’s staunchest advocate to ensure that they have the brightest futures possible. We all look for appropriate educational interventions, therapies, social skills groups, activities, medical care, and, for many, biomedical or alternative treatments. We look for teachers, doctors and therapists who recognize the tremendous potential within each of our children.

One of the challenges we face as parents of children on the spectrum is that each child on the spectrum is unique in both their gifts and their challenges. This puts new burdens on us as parents as well as on the professionals who teach and treat our children, but there are many many people out there truly dedicated to helping our children. I

t is our job as parents -- though it is not always an easy one -- to find and fight for those programs and people who are the right fit for each child’s unique needs. Even though our paths may be different, each of us has the best interests of our children at heart and, at bottom, that is the most important thing. If we look hard, I am sure we will see that there is more common ground among us than not and I urge us all -- starting today -- to stand together on that common ground, for the sake of our children.
Thank you.

No comments: