PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — April is Autism Awareness Month. For one Philadelphia mother, her son’s autism diagnosis was devastating, but she turned her despair into action to help others.
“I just prayed and asked God, if you help me get through this,” Michele Abraham-Montgomery said.READ MORE: Philadelphia School District Students, Staff To Resume Masking As COVID Cases Continue To Rise In City
Abraham-Montgomery shares her emotional journey raising her son Khylil Robinson, who has autism.
“There were no support groups for people that looked like me in Southwest Philadelphia,” Abraham-Montgomery said, “so I went all the way to North Philly to a Hispanic organization and they accepted me.”
But Abraham-Montgomery was determined to make life better for other parents raising children with autism.
She and Robinson, who is now 28 years old, co-founded Spectrum Success 911.
The nonprofit connects families with autism resources.
It’s activities like this therapeutic game that are a part of the program.
They travel to families’ homes to provide parent coaching and mindfulness techniques.READ MORE: West Philly Double Shooting Leaves 30-Year-Old Man Dead, Teen Hospitalized: Police
Robinson is also a community autism peer specialist with the city of Philadelphia’s Department of Behavioral Health and Intellectual Disability Services.
“I’m supporting families, I’m supporting the person themselves,” Robinson said.
Sometimes during sessions, when Robinson’s peers don’t feel comfortable saying what they’re feeling, he encourages them to write it down, and he does too. Then they swap the whiteboards and reach each other’s messages, which encourages language and engagement.
He and his peers make a list of planned activities to provide predictability and routine.
He teaches them to social cues, communication skills and how to deal with change.
“I love my job. I love the supporting team I have with my job,” Robinson said.
“I’m super proud of him,” Abraham-Montgomery said.MORE NEWS: Police Investigating Series Of Gunpoint Robberies In Center City, West Philadelphia
A mother and son team, giving back to the community through empowerment and education.