RJ and family resized

The Sky is the Limit for RJ

By Richard, a Children’s National parent

RJ and family resized

I have worked for years in a public school system with kids who have autism. I thought this had prepared me for anything as a parent. But the day doctors at Children’s National Hospital diagnosed my 5-year-old son RJ with autism and ADHD. I couldn’t breathe. I wondered about his future and how he'd adapt.

Care from the Early Childhood Behavioral Health team at Children’s National eased my mind. Their approach has been delicate. His team mapped out the next steps, including occupational and speech therapy. They helped us prepare for kindergarten and advocated for him at school before he started. They also supported us as parents.

My wife, Njeri, and I attended parent support groups, including one for families with recent autism diagnoses. We attended another that focused on behavior at a time when RJ had an uptick in meltdowns. The support groups provided resources, suggestions for parenting strategies that we practice daily at home and moral support. Once, Jen Floran, the social worker running the program, reached out after noticing my wife hadn’t been herself during a group meeting. They care for RJ and support us as a family.

Thanks to his team at Children’s National, RJ is working through his challenges and making big improvements. I recently overheard him talking through a moment, trying to regulate himself and his emotions based on what he has learned. He told himself, ‘I have to clean up my toys. I have to listen. I can listen.’”

There will be days with meltdowns, but we are all learning to be flexible and do the work. Thanks to care from Children’s National, the sky is the limit for RJ and his future. He says hi to every person he passes on the street. He loves to sing and recently started Kindergarten. RJ’s team has helped him to thrive. I’m a fan and I will be for the rest of my life.

A young patient at Children's National Hospital.

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A young patient at Children's National Hospital.