The five things every parent should know

A big shout out to writer and autism advocate Laura Shumaker — thank you, Laura, for featuring Matt Riley as a guest blogger on your City Brights blog. Matt is the Chairman of the Board for Easter Seals Bay Area and the parent of a 16-year-old son with autism. In the post he credits Easter Seals for helping teach him a lot about being a parent to a child with autism, then gives a list of five things he thinks every parent should know:

1. Early identification and treatment are key to your child’s future.
Our son Grant was diagnosed when he was two. In hindsight, he developed normally until around 18 months. As young parents, Cristyn and I couldn’t put our fingers on it, but we knew something wasn’t right. Our fears were realized when we heard the diagnosis of “Autism” (more specifically, PDD NOS-pervasive development disorder, not otherwise specified). We didn’t realize it at the time, but getting that early diagnosis was very important to Grant’s development.

2. Trust your instincts– you know your child best.
If something doesn’t feel quite right, recognizing that there may be a problem is a first step to ensure your child gets the services he or she needs at the time they can benefit the most.

3. Understanding the basics about child development increases your awareness about the skills your child should achieve.
It is important to know and objectively track your child’s developmental milestones. I know as young parents we felt Grant was a bit “off” in certain areas, but we were not educated enough to recognize key development milestones like language, eye contact, name recognition and appropriate play. We are lucky today to receive such high-quality support right in our community from Easter Seals.

4. Each child is unique in their development and needs — take nothing for granted.
Grant’s diagnosis has redefined us as a family, as parents and as individuals. Despite the many challenges that we have faced, I know I am a better parent, a better husband and a better man because of those challenges. We understand Grant’s needs and are so focused on guiding and helping him each and every day. We take nothing for granted. Wise people have told me the key to fulfillment in life is to live each moment fully. Grant brings that quality to our life. Even with the difficulties we face, we try to remember that and remain grateful.

5. Work with an organization like Easter Seals.

Matt goes on to talk about how much his son Grant enjoys attending Kaleidoscope in Dublin after school — link to a blog post here to read about Kaleidoscope being named 2011 Organization of the Year by the City of Dublin.

This week Easter Seals unveiled Make The First Five Count, a new advocacy effort to raise awareness for the importance of early detection and intervention within the first five years of a child’s life. Staff members from Easter Seals have been working all over the country during Autism Awareness Month to let people know about Make The First Five Count, but sometimes no one can get the word out like a parent can. Thank you for your eloquent and honest blog post, Matt Riley. And thank you, Laura Shumaker, for having the great idea to feature Matt as a guest blogger for City Brights..


Comments may not reflect Easterseals' policies or positions.

Please read our community guidelines when posting comments.

Leave a Reply