Noni’s Journey of Discovery

Jan 11, 2018

Andrew (9 years), Nicholas (10 years), and Noni

After noticing a change in her son Andrew’s speech pattern at the age of 2, Noni sought out an answer as to what was happening. When Andrew turned 3, he was diagnosed with autism spectrum, leaving her very confused, scared and concerned. She wasn’t sure where or what to do next.

“It would have been very helpful in the beginning if someone would have stepped in, shared available resources and explained the degrees of severity as a result of autism,” said Noni.

Discovering resources like Alta California Regional Center helped her relieve some of the stress and financial burden she was experiencing. It also introduced her to programs like the UCP Camp that could help her son thrive and learn socialization skills, and UCP’s Family Respite Services, which provided Noni and her husband a much needed break when feeling overwhelmed.

Andrew enjoying learning new skills

In 2018, Andrew attended the UCP Camp, where kids with autism are rewarded with a fun and exciting week away from home. At camp, kids can enjoy a true summer camp experience by making friends, sitting around a campfire, playing in the water, learning archery and more.

“I cried like a baby when I saw him leave for camp but knew it would be such a great experience for him.  And when the camp opened its doors to siblings, his brother Nicholas (10) was able to join in the fun.  I am so thankful for the program,” says Noni.

Today, Andrew is thriving, and Noni is excited for what the future holds. He plays piano, serves as an altar boy at their church, excels at math, and is learning to read, write and speak Russian, his father’s native language.

Andrew at play with his peers

Final Notes: “Demands on your life are often overwhelming when caring for someone living with developmental disabilities,” Noni states. “Downtime is very important.  The boys know that at 9:00 pm it’s bedtime for them and mommy-time for me.  I take that time to read a book, go on Facebook, watch a TV program, whatever I want to do.”

Noni advises parents of children with autism to reach out to your support system, speak up and ask questions because the answers and resources are out there. She stresses the importance of staying positive, taking time for yourself and recommends taking advantage of UCP’s resources and programs to help you along the way.