My name is Pamela. Our family recently moved to Idyllwild. We knew this move was the right choice for many reasons, but we also left a lot behind.

Our daughter was diagnosed with autism at 20 months old. We spent countless hours researching therapies, doctors and diets. Our baby would not look when you called her name or point at things she wanted. She spent a lot of her time staring at shapes and lining up objects.

She recognized me as her mommy, but never said my name or looked for me when I was not in the room. Our little girl was not communicating with us in ways we could understand.

The initial therapies were stressful and I hated seeing her unhappy. I did not feel like I was loving my daughter the way she needed me to. That’s when I discovered a program that changed our lives. It focuses on loving our children first. It teaches us how to meet them where they are. It is a program that thrives on building relationships first in order to inspire our children to want to interact and learn from us.

We built an amazing team of volunteers who came to our home and worked with our daughter one-on-one for months. During that time my daughter grew leaps and bounds and the most beautiful thing happened. She actually began to engage with us. She looked into our eyes, and she asked to be tickled, hugged and played with.

She opened up in ways I had never seen before and even began saying words. My heart overflowed with hope for her future but also ached to be taking her away from those relationships she had already worked for.

Before my daughter, my knowledge of autism was slim to none. Now that my life revolves around autism, it is all I know how to talk about. It is a challenge to connect with other families in similar situations. I would love to share our story, not only in hopes of finding volunteers, but also to spread awareness and reach out to families in our community who have children with special needs.

We all need community and what better place to start than our hometown of Idyllwild? Email [email protected].

Pamela Schlenz