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Mom's event to aid parents of autistic kids

By G. Michael Dobbs
Managing Editor
April 18, 2011
SPRINGFIELD — Springfield resident Jacqueline Williams-Hines has gone from being the mother of a child with autism to an author writing books about the subject to now someone presenting an event that will help other parents coping with the condition.
Williams-Hines is producing the first No Small Victories Autism Awareness Fair as part of the observance of April as "National Autism Month."
The event will take place at the Martin Luther King Jr. Family Services Youth Center, 3 Rutland St., on April 30 from noon to 4 p.m. Admission is free.
Williams-Hines said the afternoon is definitely a family event with information, service providers and vendors for the parents and activities for the children, such as a bounce house and face painting.
She said some parents might be coming because they have questions about their own child and to learn more about autism.
She said that while the rates of diagnosis are one in 110 births, autism affects boys at a much higher percentage than girls.
"It seems more prevalent," she told Reminder Publications, "but no one has a concrete answer."
She said that having a child affected by autism is "almost a grieving process" for a parent.
"When you look back in hindsight, there is a period of denial. Moms go through a period of guilt . We feel guilty because that child was inside you."
She said that commonly mothers are viewed as a the "super advocates" of their autistic children with fathers "shoved aside." She would like to see that changed.
Because of various cuts in social and health programs, Williams-Hines said being a parent of an autistic child is "challenging." She is hoping the fair will be the beginning of a community resource for people about the condition.
Williams-Hines published her first book on autism in 2006, "Joshua and The Startabulous Dream Maker." Through a community grant and fund-raising in the form of walk-a-thon, she wrote and published her second book, "The Adventures of Suther Joshua from Planet Yethican!" in 2008, which presented the preoccupation that children with autism often experience with certain objects or ideas, and how Joshua turned what is often looked at as a negative into a positive.
Her most recently released book "Joshua That's Sooo Slimming!" deals with a phenomenon known as "stimming" or auto-stimulation, which is often characterized by repetitive movements or sounds such as rocking back and forth, throat clearing or repetition of a certain word or phrase.
For more information on her books, go to http://mysite.verizon.net/vzeu3vkg/nosmallvictorypage.
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