Philadelphia System of Care encourages families to use their voice and find resources for their family. Imani Badie wrote the following letter describing her story and what she refers to as “the power in asking for help”
Hi my name is Imani and I am the proud grandmother of a 4 year old granddaughter living with Autism. One day at home I noticed my grandchild was not responding to her name and had a look of bewilderment on her face. In fact I never heard her talk and she was 3 at the time. I knew something was wrong so I told my daughter lets get her tested. I reached out to her pediatrician and after several months of waiting, she finally had an appointment at Drexel University’s Autism Institute.
The day we took her to get tested I was very anxious. I prayed fervently that she was delayed, in growth in some areas. Little did I know that she would receive a diagnosis that would change my life. After the testing was over we were told she had Autism. What a shock to my spirit. I was angry, mad and sad all at the same time at GOD.
How could this be no one else in the family is like this. I went home and cried and then I emailed an acquaintance, named Melodie. I sent her an email stating that my granddaughter had been diagnosis with Autism and this was not my skill set area. I desperately needed help and I knew nothing about Autism except people act differently. I received a reply back telling me to come to a family support meeting being that is held on the 3rd Friday of every month.
Little did I know how that particular meeting would have such a positive impact on my life. From that first meeting I learned that I was not alone and that help and support was available to me and my family. I learned about all kinds of resources and places that offer supportive services, such as speech therapy and from Melodies’s supervisor I learned about ABA therapy.
After attending the first meeting I became full of hope and I was inspired beyond words. One of the benefits of attending the family meeting for me was the information and workshops presented. As a result of attending the family meetings I have attended several conferences, 2 trainings one on leadership and the other as a family peer specialist, and I was honored to be asked to attend a county leadership meeting and participate on a interview panel.
In one of the meetings, I met Melodie’s supervisors Valarie and Catherine who are very caring and committed to helping families with children living with challenging behaviors, to function, in spite of dysfunction in the city of brotherly love and sisterly affection. Philadelphia has a very visionary and progressive system of care called Community Behavioral Health. I have met some wonderful people and I am deeply impressed with youth leadership team which is lead by Shaiheed. I am thankful that Catherine, Valerie and Melodie have given me such wonderful opportunities to learn and grow while using my lived experiences to enlightened those in leadership in cross systems of care in meetings.
Are you a family member? Do you have a story to share? Contact Melodie Jackson and attend a DBHIDS Family Member Committee meeting to see the power of a meeting for you and your family.