Grief, guilt and confusion are replaced with “incredible gratitude”
She plays the drums, solves complex math problems seemingly without thought, and enjoys art and performing for her friends. But for Aiyana, a sixth grade student at San Diego Center for Children Academy, it wasn’t always this way. Aiyana has been diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome, a form of autism that affects a person’s ability to communicate, to socialize, and even to use one’s imagination. Aiyana has an I.Q. that is borderline genius, but as her mother explains, “she has no social boundaries.”
This disorder made Aiyana’s first few years in school a nightmare for her and her parents. “It used to scare me, listening to the phone ring,” her mother, Stephanie, told us. “I knew I would have to go see Aiyana at school again, or somebody had something negative to say about her again or was feeling like I was failing again. I didn’t know what else I could do.” Then Stephanie and her husband, Toby, heard about the San Diego Center for Children. After enrolling Aiyana in our Academy, her parents saw encouraging improvements.
“It’s an amazing feeling that as a parent, finally we feel like we made the right decision in bringing her to the Center for Children,” Toby recalls. “They have given us as parents renewed hope that she’s going to be OK in life.”
Aiyana is one of the thousands of boys and girls and their families who receive help each
year at the Center for Children. But our help goes far beyond the children. Jessica Townsend, a therapist at the Center, explains it like this: “When families come to us, they are feeling scared and confused. Often they feel abandoned. Some families are dealing with tremendous grief because no one plans to have a child with special needs. “It’s so powerful when they come here and they find that we understand that grief. We understand the guilt about that grief. We
understand the fear, their confusion.”
For Aiyana, the transformation has been remarkable. “I don’t feel that sense of panic anymore because when the Center calls, it’s to tell me the remarkable things that she’s doing,” Stephanie says. “They help amazing kids like Aiyana who just need a little more help than we can give them as parents.” It’s no wonder Aiyana’s parents say, “We are so incredibly grateful!”