Thursday, November 19, 2009

Q and A with Amalia Starr

Dear Friends,

I am extremely excited to be able to bring to you a Q and A with our guest blogger for November, Amalia Starr who is a mother, an Autism Family Consultant, Motivational Speaker & Author of Raising Brandon: Creating a Path to Independence for Your Adult “Kid” with Autism & Special Needs.

1) What advice do you have for parents that just found out their child has a developmental disability?

It is important to be aware that negative feelings will arise. Try not to get attached to those feelings, don’t numb them out, and don’t bury them. They will shift over time. Remember, it is a process. We are all different, but I have found that surrendering to “what is” helps one to move through this stage more quickly, as resistance to “what is” will only prolong it. When you are able to face the diagnosis head on the negative feelings will begin to fade away, and acceptance is right around the corner.

 Gather as much information as possible.
 Join support groups.
 Talk about your child’s disability.
 Keep a journal,and write down anything and everything.
 Find one person you can share your innermost feelings with.
 When you are ready talk to other parents. They can be a great source of information and support.
 Try to live and stay in the moment as often as you can.
 Be courageous, and believe in yourself.

My son, Brandon was diagnosed with epilepsy and learning disorders at age nine. The pediatric neurologist told us to tell no one including Brandon that he had epilepsy, due to the stigma attached. For several years I did what she said. That was one of the worst things I could have done.

 Don’t keep secrets, especially about a health condition. It causes more harm than good.

I know from personal experience that when our children are helped at an early age, they have a much better chance of changing negative behaviors, improving performance, increasing self-acceptance, and self-esteem. However, if you missed that opportunity as I did with Brandon, don’t give up. We didn’t find out Brandon had Asperger’s until he was thirty-two years old. Early intervention is key, but I know firsthand it’s never too late to get help.

2) What do you wish someone would have told you about having a child with special needs?

 Don’t take it personally.
 It is not your fault.
 The sooner you give up resistance the sooner you can help your child.
 Trust yourself.
 If traditional treatment isn’t working look into alternatives.
 Doctors are not always right.
 Find a physician you like, and one who understands your situation.
 Acceptance comes only when you are ready.
 Be kind to yourself.
 Get as much help, assistance and support from people who care, as often as possible.
 Hold onto HOPE and never let it go.

3) What do you consider to be the most important milestone for a parent?

The most important milestones for me came when I was able to recognize and appreciate the small things Brandon was able to accomplish. Once I added them all together they were no longer small, they were grand. That is the beauty with our special needs kids they are all different and very special. Focus on what your child can do not on what he/she can’t do.

4) How did you reach that milestone?

I gave up trying to change my son, because I realized that I was the one who needed to change. I changed my perspective. I was then able to accept Brandon for exactly who he was. That shifted everything. I no longer tried to fix my son, because he wasn’t broken. I began to understand his thinking patterns, and his unique way of doing things, and I discovered what a beautiful person he was. I then gave up my expectations and Brandon began to develop and mature in ways I never thought possible. ACCEPTANCE is the answer.

5) How has having a Child with Asperger’s changed your point of view about the world?

I learned we don’t have to become victims. We are all individuals, and we are responsible for our own actions and wellbeing. We have many options and choices. I believe we have the ability to create our own happiness, and our own destiny. There are many ways to get to the top of the mountain. It is up to us, the parents, to help our special needs children carve out their own special path.

6) How can the community better help people with autism?

We need to educate our communities by helping them to be well informed. Information and knowledge can be powerful, and can help people to better understand our children and adults with autism and special needs. I hope and pray that one day we will be able to live in harmony and learn to appreciate, and even celebrate our differences.

7) What can we all do to reach that goal?

We can all be more conscious evolved human beings. Work on ourselves to be the best we can be. When we do that we are not only helping ourselves we are also helping our children, and all the people around us.

8) What made you write Raising Brandon?

I initially wrote Raising Brandon to help me work through my unwanted feelings, of sadness, anger, and disappointment. Writing was a great way to release my negative thoughts and feelings. It took nearly twelve years to write the book, because Brandon and I had to grow into the story and begin to live it. Once Brandon had twelve years of living independently under his belt I felt we had a story of great value and worth sharing. Raising Brandon is filled with answers and solutions I wished I had when Brandon was growing up.

9) How has "Raising Brandon" changed your life?

Raising Brandon has opened the doors for me to live my dream as a motivational speaker. I give presentations, workshops, seminars, and private consultations. I have met some of the most wonderful people, including parents, family members, health professionals, and educators. These people truly care and want to make this world a better place. I am proud to be included in this arena. I love helping others, and I love what I do.

As parents, we can never give up. We hold the key to our children’s future. My son, Brandon is living proof that anything is possible.

I encourage you to contact her so you can learn more about all she does! website.
autismmomexpert twitter

The MSAAFinc would like to thank Amalia Starr for her time and love!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

"Winter Wonderland” toy drive and annual Autism information fair!

“Winter Wonderland” toy and food drive and annual Autism Winter information fair!

Please feel free to bring any donations of food (non perishable items) and toys!

Thank YOU!!

" The MSAAFinc is a non- profit organization that offers a forum for families of children, teens and adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder.To find love and support!"

This is intended on being a day of education, empowerment and fun! Families have the opportunity of connecting with other parents affected by Autism Spectrum Disorders.

We are 100% volunteer-run and pay the bills through donations and paid services. Please email us for more information on how you can help!

Date: Monday, Dec 21 2009

Time: 2 pm to 5 pm

Location: Canoga Park CA

Cost: FREE - families are welcome

Contact: RSVP @

Attractions: Snacks, bouncy house!

Sponsored by BooksByTara DJs4Autism!

Sponsorship opportunities!! Please email

Thank You!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Current Events & News

Current Events & News

November is MSAAFinc month devoted to the transition from childhood to adulthood Amalia Starr, is our guest blogger for the month of November!
AmaliaStarrSpeakerAutism website.

Thanksgiving Basket Drive is off to a good start! We just may be able to help more people then we did last year!
Please feel free to join our drive!

What we are listening to:
"it's on with Zack" ItsOnWithZack A show about everything Autism!!

Books we are loving:
Raising Brandon by Amalia Starr AmaliaStarrSpeakerAutism website. A book I am finding hard to put down! Gives hope!!

Water by Tara BooksByTara website. I love this book. Will be enjoyed by people of all ages, and all ability levels!!

Saving Deets!: A Family's Journey with Autism
by Zack Gonzalez
Zack Gonzalez website.

Tools we are loving:
The Complete Guide to Functional Behavior Assessments by Daniel Adatto, MA, BCBA TotalBehaviorSolutions website. A guide that everyone that works/lives with ASD needs to have!

Coming up this month:
A Q&A with Amalia Starr AmaliaStarrSpeakerAutism
We are so lucky to have her!! Please go to her website and learn about all she does!

Winter Wonderland Toy Drive & Party More info to come!

Thank you!
The MSAAFinc

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Parents and their Role of Transition by Amalia Starr

November is MSAAFinc month devoted to the transition from childhood to adulthood. When I think of transtion I think of Amalia Starr! And am extremely excited to welcome Amalia Starr, who has kindly agreed to be our guest blogger for the month of November.

Amalia Starr is a Mother, an Autism Family Consultant, Motivational Speaker & Author of Raising Brandon: Creating a Path to Independence for Your Adult “Kid” with Autism & Special Needs.

Parents and their Role of Transition

Who is dong the transitioning, the children or the parents? Ideally we would all be transitioning together along the way. How can we help our children grow and develop, if we aren’t growing and changing ourselves?

As we raise our children, especially, children with special needs we must be the best we can be. As parents, we lead the way and we hold the key to our children’s future. As we continue to transition, we become more evolved human beings in the process, and the healthier we are emotionally the more we have to give. The better we feel about ourselves the more we can help our children. When we parent this way the entire family wins.

My thirty-six year old son, Brandon has Asperger’s, untreatable epilepsy, and severe learning disorders. He has achieved what professionals believed to be impossible: he has been living on his own for the past twelve years, enjoying his independence.

Independence is one of the greatest gifts we can give our children. Although living alone may not be an option for every child, helping one’s child to live the best life possible is every parent’s dream.

Independence comes in all shapes and sizes. Our children are transitioning all the time. We may not notice it unless we stay focused on the small, tiny things our children can do. Try not to compare your children with others. Praise them for what they do. Focus on seeing the positive instead of the negative.

Find ways to take time out for yourself, and bring laughter and joy into your life. As parents, we set the tone within the family unit. We must get help, assistance, and support from people who care and understand our children. We don’t need to do this alone. There are people who truly want to help. Welcome them in, and allow them to assist and support you. The better you take care of yourself, the more you have to give, and help your children reach their full potential.

I encourage you to contact her so you can learn more about all she does!
AmaliaStarrSpeakerAutism website.
autismmomexpert twitter

The MSAAFinc would like to thank Amalia Starr for her time and love!
Please stay tuned for our Q&A with Amalia Starr coming up later this month!

Monday, November 2, 2009


Dear Frineds

The entire community is encouraged to participate in the annual Thanksgiving Basket Drive. Please help make an area family’s Thanksgiving a little brighter by donating a meal, complete with a turkey and trimmings. ( and a Happy Thanksgiving note)

Last year, MSAAFinc donated more than 20 Baskets!!

This year’s goal is to provide at least 30 meals for Thanksgiving. Please encourage your office, department, group, club/organization, residence hall, Greek House, team, etc., to donate at least one basket this year for a local family in need.

A complete basket is made up of canned vegetables, gravy, sweet potatoes, cranberry sauce, stuffing, juice, baked beans, canned fruit or applesauce, spaghetti sauce, pasta products, peanut butter, jelly, crackers, tuna, rice, and $15 to 20 for the turkey and pie in a small laundry basket.

The baskets can be dropped off in Canoga park at
Andy's Submarine Sandwich's
21311 Sherman Way
Canoga Park, CA 91303

We will pick up!
If interested in becoming a drop off spot please let us know!!

For more information, please contact TheMSAAFinc no later than Monday, November 20, at

Thank You!
The MSAAFinc