Terrified 34 Year Old Single Mother Of Autistic Child Seeks Debt Relief
(Thomson, GA, USA)
My name is Shasa and I was born and raised in Thomson, Georgia. I would describe Thomson as a rural area, because it is small and everybody knows everybody.
I was raised in a single-parent home, where my mother instilled in me that I could achieve anything, if I put my mind to it.
I am 34 years old, a single mother and a sergeant in the United States Army Reserves, with aspirations of becoming an Officer.
My 11-year-old son is autistic, and I hope to instill in him the same values that were instilled in me.
Being the single parent of an autistic child is amusing, frustrating, extraordinary, yet difficult.
It takes a hardworking, outgoing, dedicated, tenacious, and motivated person to excel at a job of raising an autistic child.
I feel that I exemplify all of these characteristics. My son's name is Kameron, and he is intelligent, sensitive, outgoing, hilarious and energetic. I would like to introduce Kameron to you by telling his story.
On January 22, 200, a beautiful 7lb 7oz baby boy enters this world. He came out screaming at the top of his lungs, which is normal for a healthy baby.
My son was placed in my arms, and I immediately fell in love, because he was mine. He was perfect in my eyes.
Kameron's first word was "dada" like any child's first word, but my mother noticed around 18 to 20 months that he was not saying full sentences.
I did not worry about it, because children progress differently, and he would speak when he was ready.
I made an appointed with Kameron's pediatrician to satisfy my mother. I wanted her to weigh in on this alleged problem. The pediatrician did not think I should worry.
I asked for a referral to a speech therapist, so that I could continue to make my mother happy. Kameron's first day of speech therapy was not successful, because he did not want to cooperate; he wanted to do his own thing.
The full year that Kameron attended speech therapy, there were good days as well as bad days. The therapist told me that she suspected autism, because he was not giving her eye contact, nor was he focusing on activities.
In my opinion, one can be perfectly normal and exhibit characteristics such as lack of eye contact and focusing. I was in total denial. I knew my son was normal, so I brushed the thought of autism off.
In 2003, when Kameron was 3 years old, we moved to Columbus, Ohio, because I was accepted into Ohio State University.
I did not realize that Kameron could be Autistic until I had problems in getting him enrolled in school.
I made appointments for potential schools that he could possibly attend, but the school's psychologists let me know that there were more problems than his speech. This was déjà vu.
I was told to get him tested, because I would continue to experience problems with getting him into school.
I finally caught a break when I went to one of my professors at Ohio State University, and she gave me the name and number of a colleague that could help me find a school for him.
I was successful, because Kameron was able to attend a school, but up to a certain age. I did not worry about this until he was closer to that cut off age.
In October of 2005, I received the most devastating news any parent could regarding their child. I learned that Kameron had ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder) and was moderately retarded.
I was upset, but not totally surprised, because I was warned that he could be. It took several incidents for me to realize that my son was different.
For example, Kameron would exhibit repetitive behavior, such as lining up objects by colors or size. He would rock back and forth, hand and arm flapping, and required a straw in his cup.
The diagnosis of moderate retardation upset me, because I knew my son was intelligent. I let the psychologist know that I would get a second opinion. He agreed, and I did.
I made an appointment at the Ohio State University Medical Center for children. I met a pediatrician that treats children with autism and a psychologist. The two concurred with the first diagnosis.
I cried for days, because I was afraid that I could not care for my son. In addition to finding out that my son was Autistic, I learned that tuition at Ohio State had increased and I could not attend classes until I got the money.
The news put such a strain on me that I lost weight and my hair fell out. I had no choice but to put school on hold.
I was 30 hours shy of graduating in 2005, but helping my son and getting financially stable was more important.
I remained in Ohio until 2007, because I was trying to get the help I needed. I decided to enlist in the Army, because I thought that this was the best way to help my son and me.
Things seem to get better, but they have not. Kameron was diagnosed again this time with aggression, and he started seeing a psychiatrist.
Kameron is making progress and that problem is under control, but I still have an outstanding debt that needs to be paid.
I receive letters daily stating that I need to send the full payments of money that I owe, or it will go to court. I cannot work right now, because there is no one to care for my son, because he requires a lot of attention.
I just took on another problem. I help care for my grandmother, and she has Alzheimer's, so this is very overwhelming for me.
I want to alleviate my pain, starting with my debt. Earning a grant will help me get one step closer to getting my credit repaired.
I have never received help from my son's father and this has been a major burden for me as well. I have applied for several jobs, but no luck.
I have aspirations and goals of succeeding in life, and I think earning a Masters Degree in Social Work and Public Health will give my son and me a better life.
Throughout my educational career, I maintained high achievements, because I know it would be a step closer to achieving my goals in life.
I have dreams of going above and beyond in my endeavors to academic and career excellence.
My first step in achieving excellence is getting my financial situation cleared. I want to be happy again. Right now I am terrified and stressed.
I want to be happy and stress free, and earning a grant will allow me to be.