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Parents of children with autism create much-needed support group

Date: 5/5/2009

By Ashlene Ferris

Staff Intern

AGAWAM -- Having a child with autism can be an overwhelming journey, one that a local mother has decided not to tackle alone.

Angie Jordan, mother to a child with autism, has created a new support group for parents whose children have been diagnosed with the disease. The first meeting will take place on May 21 from 7 to 8:30 p.m. at the Senior Center, 954 Main St.

Jordan said she started the group so parents could have the opportunity to learn and teach one another.

"There's not a lot of support groups for parents whose children have been diagnosed with autism," she said. "The more word spreads [on autism], the more help we can get from each other."

Autism is a complex developmental disability that affects a person's ability to communicate and interact with others. There is no known cause for autism but awareness can aid families and their children in knowing they're not alone.

Kim Caggiano, whose three-year-old son was recently diagnosed with autism, said she plans on attending the parent meetings.

She added that she's excited about the support group and is looking forward to meeting other parents who she can relate to.

"I think parents are going to benefit a great deal from the support group and all it has to offer," Caggiano said. "Parents whose children have been newly diagnosed could benefit by talking with each other. [We're] parents who have the same issues, [so it helps us not to] feel isolated."

Parents will be able to discuss their ideas, information they have learned and share advice.

"I definitely think we're going to be able to help each other, by getting each other's feedback and techniques," Jordan said. "I would like to eventually branch out and make it possible for siblings to come, making it a fun place where kids could come and play around."

Families, relatives and friends are welcome to attend the support group as well.

For more information, call Jordan at 330-6376.