Mom Interviews

Mika Bradford

Nutritionist, consultant, and autism activist

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Parenting a child with special needs can be difficult even on the best of days. How do you recharge your batteries?

There are days when having a special needs child is harder than others, but I am still able to see the blessing autism has brought me. I have been extremely blessed to have very dynamic people in my life. My family and the friends I have made along the way are irreplaceable, but the primary support that has sustained me through the journey of autism is my faith in God. I have found we can always find purpose in the pain if we are able to look beyond the immediate circumstances. I believe that my purpose is to blaze a trail that will allow others to have access to the resources their children need. Finding these same resources and supports, learning how to navigate through the system, took me many years and sleepless nights. I wish I could say that I had some routine or special way of pampering myself, but the thing that recharges my battery the most is seeing how the information or support I have given a family ultimately changes their life for the better. I continually find joy in watching my son reach milestones we were told he would never reach, along with the successes all of my children continue to realize.

What would you tell a parent whose child has been newly diagnosed with PDD-NOS?

I would encourage parents to leave no stone unturned when looking at what is the right therapy and intervention for their child. I would encourage them to give everything they have when trying to meet the educational and behavioral needs for their child. We have a saying in the world of autism, "You either pay now or pay later." This means that you ultimately have to find an effective way to deal with the challenges of autism. By providing the resources and support the child needs early on, you may bypass secondary consequences that would have arisen from those needs going unmet.

Parents must also give themselves grace. You must pace yourself to prevent burn out and, regardless of your financial resources, know that you can positively impact your child's life. Autism is an expensive condition to treat and live with, but resourceful families have found ways to work the system regardless of what funds are or are not available. You can do autism on a budget, it just may require a bit more planning.

Last, no matter what levels of functioning your child may be at, know that there is HOPE!


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