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A Message to Autism Parents: "You Are Your Kid’s Biggest Advocate"

This guest post is by Trisha Sandoz, a momvocate, one of our New England Chapter Volunteer Leaders and also was just crowned as Mrs. Massachusetts International. Trisha’s using her platform to honor her son, who is on the autism spectrum.

“You are your kid’s biggest advocate,” are words I often find myself quoting to many friends and parents I meet.   They are words recited to me a number of years back from a friend/advocate who instilled in me the need to be strong for myself and my son.   I embraced those words, put my best foot forward and sourced my inner strength to push forward to do my best to make a difference in any way I can for those living with autism.   I am making a difference as a parent, a member of my community, and as the reigning Mrs. Massachusetts International 2015.

My name is Trisha Sandoz and I am a mom, parent advocate, volunteer, and wife, but most importantly, I am a voice for my 10 year old son, Nick, who is autistic.  he last 6+ years of my life have been spent advocating and working hard to support my son Nick who, at age 4, was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder.  Each year as a family we are faced with new challenges and complexities that test us to the limits. I can say this past year has been one of our most difficult yet and those difficulties continue to increase with time. 

In the same, we also take great pride as does Nick with each milestone, big or small, that we reach.  Those milestones are met by having the best resources, services and support we are fortunate to have and staying strong as a family.  My goal over the past number of years has been to advocate as hard as I can for Nick in many arenas and focus my efforts toward raising awareness in the community through several avenues, namely my years of involvement with Autism Speaks as a Walk Event Chair and Volunteer.  Given our own struggles as one family and hearing the stories of so many others, I feel it’s important for me as a parent and a member in the community to reach out and help people try to understand our world the best I can. 

My son Nick is charming, silly, bright, compassionate and creative and the driving force behind all that I do.  He is the reason I volunteer and give back and the reason I competed for, and was crowned, Mrs. Massachusetts International 2015.  It was a very personal goal for me I sought to achieve, with the sole purpose and hope that this venue would open up a world of opportunities to use my voice to make a difference on a much larger scale and to a greater audience. My end goal in this journey is to raise autism awareness, and educate and advocate within the community in the most effective and productive way I can.  As one person I can make a difference, as a volunteer I can help bring about change, and as Mrs. Massachusetts I can reach a greater audience of people to share my own story and the resources and services available to families living with autism.  

The Autism Speaks blog features opinions from people throughout the autism community. Each blog represents the point of view of the author and does not necessarily reflect Autism Speaks' beliefs or point of view.