Encouragement Speaker Derrick Hayes gives an AUTISM Interview by asking six questions through each letter in the word AUTISM to give readers an insightful perspective from parents, experts, entrepreneurs, and other leaders in the field.
Today’s AUTISM Interview is Matt and Navah Asner, who both had children with autism before marrying and becoming the Brady Bunch of Autism.
Matt is the President and CEO and Navah is the COO of The Ed Asner Family Center. For more information, you can visit https://edasnerfamilycenter.org/.
A is for Awareness
When and how did you first become aware that something was different?
Navah: Edwin was more impacted than his brother Wolf. He didn’t speak. Even by age three. So that was my first sign.
Matt: For me was even later Willy didn’t speak until age 5.
U is for Unique
How has this experience been Unique for you and your child?
Matt & Navah: The experience of autism is unique in itself. We have autistic sons; learning how to navigate and care for each one’s individual needs has provided us with wildly different roads to travel.
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T is for Tools
What tools are there now that were not there in the beginning that could help other parents?
Matt: For one, families don’t need to be alone anymore. The experiences of raising a child on the spectrum has changed dramatically in the last ten years, there is so much more information and support than ever before.
Navah: Matt and I created our Center (The Ed Asner Family Center) because of our own need for a space where we could bring our kids to have enrichments and get mental health support at the same time. I’m hoping this new style of supporting the ENTIRE special family will be only the beginning.
I is for Inspire
As a parent when you look at your child or children what inspires you?
Navah & Matt: So much. Their bravery, autism. and anxiety go hand in hand. Every day our kids are asked to do so much and they do it even with all the added struggles and challenges autism can bring.
S is for Support
Are there things you struggle with or have struggled with and what types of support do you still need?
Navah: Before I met Matt I was a single mom of four kids, two of whom were autistic, and struggling mightily with my own anxiety. I needed mental health support and couldn’t afford it. That’s something I think every special needs parent should have access to. We try to provide low and no cost mental health at The Ed Asner Family Center for all special needs families.
Matt: For me it was a feeling of being all alone in this battle, going through a bad divorce, having some custody of my sons and feeling really lost with no community. I love that at our center everyone feels welcome. Navah and I uniquely understand, what it’s like to feel your kids aren’t welcome at Aunt Harriet’s or birthday parties. At The Ed Asner Family Center we want everyone to feel welcome and included.
M is for Manage
What keys to success can you leave with parents so that they can better manage their day to day efforts?
Matt: Take time for your spouse. Try to remember you’re in this together and hold on tight.
Navah: Ditto. Also breathe. Take it minute by minute some days if necessary. During the hardest times with autism, I’d remind myself of that.
This article was featured in Issue 102 – Supporting ASD Needs Everyday