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Autism Support Group Offers Diamond Bar Parents a Place to Connect

April is Autism Awareness Month, and a local group makes sure that parents have a place for support.

April is National Autism Awareness Month, and for those affected by the condition in Diamond Bar, there is a local group that brings attention to autism year round.

“The support group is for San Gabriel Valley parents, from San Gabriel to Whittier to San Dimas to Pomona,” said Diamond Bar resident Gina Rivera. “Right now, we have 89 parents on Facebook, and about 12 that participate in our private in-home coffee talks. We really just vent, support, and laugh.”

According to the Autism Society, autism is a “complex developmental disability that typically appears during the first three years of life and affects a person’s ability to communicate and interact with others. Autism is defined by a certain set of behaviors and is a ‘spectrum disorder’ that affects individuals differently and to varying degrees.’” There is no known single cause for autism.

Through the San Gabriel Valley Special Needs Support Group, members learn about the latest news and treatments for autism. 

“There are so many things that parents of children with autism do not know exist,” Rivera said. “ABA, floor therapy, respite care, speech therapy, occupational therapy, and many, many, more. These are the things we discuss. We advocate, inform, teach and support each other.”

The members are there for one another even when the meetings are over.

“Sometimes there are tears or we have to run over and babysit for an hour so parents can get themselves back together or get to a last minute dental appointment,” Rivera said.

Rivera has four children, and two have autism. Her seventeen-year-old son has Asperger’s, and her three-year-old was diagnosed with autism at 14 months.

“I have to fight everyday to get her the services she needs,” Rivera said. 

Rivera and her friends from the autism community fundraise and participate in events that further awareness. In Los Angeles County, an Autism Walk will take place at the Rose Bowl April 21.

“There are so many fundraising efforts currently in action just to get research done for our kids, not to mention the thousands of dollars needed to provide services for our kids with autism,” Rivera said. 

Rivera herself participates in the Autism Speaks Walk in Orange County, which will be held at Angel Stadium in Anaheim. To donate to her cause, click here.

gina rivera April 01, 2012 at 07:02 AM
We do have weekly meetings during the day and you are welcome to be apart of the Coffee Talks even if you do not want to be on facebook. Just let me know you are interested and we can get you started :) This is free. Thank you for the article!
Theresa Meneses April 01, 2012 at 02:40 PM
I'm part of the coffee tawks, and I can't say enough about the love, support, acceptance, tolerance, and no judgement, I receive. Autism can be a very lonely place for you and your child, others just do not get it if they have not walked in our shoes. April is autism awareness month, but every day in our home, it's autism awareness.Please get educated! Thanks for your contribution to this article Gina, and everything you do for autism awareness!
Tricia Cannon April 01, 2012 at 03:07 PM
I would like to join those meetings. My son is 5 1/2 and autistic. I live here in diamond bar. Can u pls call me with more info 909 868 8076
gina rivera April 02, 2012 at 06:15 AM
Tricia, welcome to the group, i hope to find more people to join!
gina rivera April 13, 2012 at 06:21 PM
Here is my email for anyone who would like to talk more about this, rivera.gina@gmail.com
Tia August 24, 2012 at 02:29 AM
Hi my name is Tia my daughter was just diagnosed about a month now with autism at two years eight months and help is so hard to find. Lots of tears and frustration with everything changing my daughter is such a joy and so precious:0) were learning to work with her new tantrums more everyday as well as signing to talk to her but there so much more she needs therpy and ada im so in the dark right now any help suggestions or taking me by the hand lol...would be more then appreciated at this point :) l

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