(T-G Photo by Doug Dezotell)
Frame understood the loneliness and frustration Moore was feeling, because she too is the mother of an autistic child. Frame is also the Bedford County representative of the Autism Society of Middle Tennessee.
"Meeting other parents of autism is life-changing," Frame said. "When we were told the diagnosis, I felt like I had been dropped on a desert island. You have this overwhelming sense of isolation."
Autism is a developmental disorder with characteristics such as impaired social interaction, problems with verbal and nonverbal communication, and unusual, repetitive, or severely limited activities and interests. It's said that possibly one in every 150 children are being diagnosed with autism today, and males are four times more likely than females to have autism. Doctors can usually diagnose a child as autistic within the first three years of life.
Frame's 12-year-old son, Levi, who is autistic, today is in a regular fifth grade class at Cascade Elementary School. Moore is the mother of 3-year-old Maverick, who attends an Applied Behavioral Analysis class at Eakin Primary.
The two mothers, knowing the isolation autism can cause for a family, have organized a new support group they call Parents ACT (Autism Changes Time). They are aware of 40 to 50 families in Bedford County who have autistic children, and they want to reach out to other parents who may have felt the same frustration and isolation.
"It's wonderful to have people that truly understand what we're going through as parents with autistic children," Moore said. "What a relief it is to have a friendly face who understands."
The Parents ACT Support Group will hold its first meeting on Thursday at 5:30 p.m. at McDonald's on Madison Street. Management has arranged for the group to meet in the play area so parents and children can interact with one another.
"Our mission is to provide support for families living with autism and to promote autism awareness in the community," Frame said. "We realize the importance of educating ourselves and others about this disorder that is affecting families, schools, and our community."
Parents ACT Support Group is recognized by the Autism Society of Middle Tennessee, which is a non-profit organization of parents, professionals, and other volunteers who are dedicated to the education and welfare of persons with autism and related disorders.