When Melissa Martinez-Areffi learned that her eldest child had autism, she cried – and then, like many parents of kids with special needs, she got to work.
But after her second and third children were diagnosed as well, Martinez-Areffi and her husband, Andrew Areffi, decided to help others.
Their self-published book, “Navigating Autism: The Essential How-To By Parents For Parents,” is the latest in a growing list of titles meant to help families who have loved ones with a developmental disorder.
The idea, the Toluca Lake couple said, is to help parents chart a path to get help for their kids. While there are many books on autism, this one offers a step-by-step guide in obtaining services, and helps parents understand what to expect.
When they set out on their journey, the Areffs said, other books provided a general idea of therapies and other treatments that might help their kids, but few offered concrete advice on such topics as how to talk to doctors or ways to research a school program.
Their book is an attempt to offer such information to other parents.
Topics include how to work the system in various states, the role of government agencies and how to communicate with them and tips for making family life more pleasurable.
Their book even talks about how to pick a nanny.
“This book provides specifics,” Andrew Areffi said.
The Areffis said they also want to help parents understand that their child’s condition is not their fault.
“Repeat after us,” they write. “It is not my fault that my child has autism …”
Melissa Areffi said that overcoming guilt is often a hard obstacle.
“A lot of it is you blaming yourself," she told NBC4 in an interview. "The biggest hurdle that all parents have to get over is that feeling of guilt.”
The book is available on Amazon.com for $24.95. The Areffis' website is www.navautism.com.