Finding out your child has a disability can be life-altering. Just ask Erica Hobby. Two years ago, when this Pikesville mother of two first learned her son has autism, she found herself adjusting to a new reality – one that left her with more questions than answers.
Erica, who currently sits on The Associated: Jewish Federation of Baltimore’s Disabilities Committee, talks about her personal journey, her determination to provide meaningful, Jewish experiences for her son, as well as other children with disabilities, and how her daughter is determined to join her and make a difference.
My son Jonathan wasn’t diagnosed with high-functioning autism until he was seven.Looking back there were always small things that stood out and that raised the question for us. I remember in preschool he didn’t want to sit on the grass so the teacher would put her sweater down so he could sit comfortably. He often ran away when we would be out running errands. And although he was very bright, he was socially immature.
It was hard when we found out he had autism. All of a sudden, we had to adjust our expectations. We began to think about his future – what does this mean for his life? He’s a smart, kind child, but will he have the ability to pursue and maintain his desired career? Will he live independently? And what kinds of supports might he need?
Having a child with disabilities can be so isolating. Unless you’ve walked in someone’s shoes, you can’t really understand what someone else is going through. We are blessed with amazing friends, and as much as they are supportive, there are aspects of our day-to-day lives that they can’t understand or relate to. Seeking out other moms of kids with disabilities has been critically important for me. We serve as a tremendous resource and support system for one another.
One of our main goals is to give our son the skills so he can be a capable and happy adult. He attends a school that incorporates the building of social and communication skills into their curriculum.