An upcoming luncheon aims to bring together mothers of children with autism for an afternoon of connection and education.
The Women United for Autism Celebration of Mothers Luncheon is 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. April 2 at Brio Italian Grille in Palm Beach Gardens. Tickets are $50 and include the lunch and an afternoon of communion with mothers with similar experiences to your own. (Click here to buy a ticket through Eventbrite.)
Creating that kind of connection between moms is pivotal for Terri Rose, who established Women United for Autism in 2019 following her own experience with her son William, who has Autism Spectrum Disorder.
“For many years, I felt there was a need in the community for some type of service that could just be there to help moms of children with disabilities,” Rose said. “The system is so complex, and it shouldn’t be.”
The event will give moms a place to relax, meet other moms of children with autism, have some fun, enter for giveaways and get a goody bag full of information.
When a parent first finds out their child has autism, it can feel very isolating and even traumatic, Rose said. “I want to empower moms and help them to remember they are an individual, and they have to remember that they need to stay connected and not be all alone,” she said. “Because they’re not alone. I want to teach them about my journey.”
Rose has spent more than two decades working with state agencies to help provide services for people with disabilities, including job placement and and preparation.
Her son, William, is now 28 years old and thriving. He has his associate’s degree in graphic design technology from Palm Beach State College, and he serves on the junior board for the Unicorn Children’s Foundation. He and his mother also wrote a book together, “Amazing Grace, Amazing Gifts,” which is available in Palm Beach County libraries. He has volunteered for the past 11 years with Christ Fellowship Church in Palm Beach Gardens, and he recently started volunteering as an assistant teacher for Spanish classes through Unicorn’s Children Foundation.
“I want parents to see what I’ve done, and yes, not all situations with all children will be the same, but if we continue to push on this journey and not give up, we can do something great for our children,” Rose said. “You have to focus on what they love doing.”
As a Social Security Administration employment network provider for people with disabilities, Rose targets her clients’ interests in helping them to find work. “You’ve got to carve out these jobs,” she said, “jobs that fit their desires.”
At age 64 and with three adult children in addition to William, Rose said she has no desire to retire anytime soon. “I am kicking it up in gear, and I’m going to help these moms so they can help the next generation of moms,” she said. “We can’t continue to have it so parents don’t know where to turn.”
Rose chose Sunday as the dedicated day for her gatherings because she said hopefully, there will be someone to help watch the children for Mom on that day. “That’s the day that somebody should be off from work,” she said.
She hopes to continue Women United for Autism’s events on a quarterly basis, to provide moms a way to relax and unwind in safe space. “We don’t need the kids always on our hips,” Rose said. “We need some me time.”
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