Never Give Up Hope

Posted by Tarryl Zdanky on


Many years ago, when my children were small, our family traveled to Yale University to be included in a research study for families with two siblings affected with autism. There were three days of different types of tests on each one of us (two young children affected with autism, sibling not affected with autism, and parents). It was truly a challenge because my daughter had multiple issues and she would not sleep in an unfamiliar place. We were very grateful that the Ronald McDonald House allowed our family to stay there during the study. My daughter was able to sleep on the couch at the Ronald McDonald House and sitting up in her car seat while in the car. This was our first trip and we did not know how the children would react to the experience. Our goals for our visit to Yale University were to help researchers gather information in order to help others in the future and to receive a written report for our school district (at that time) in order to get the best services and care for our children.

I remember that there was one day that was particularly stressful. We were back at the Ronald McDonald House and I had gone downstairs to the kitchen for something. An older woman said “hello”.  She had seen us with our children earlier. She told me that it was all going to be alright. All I could do is cry in her arms. I couldn’t speak. Here is this stranger that took the time to be sensitive to what I was going through with two young children that are non-verbal and affected with autism. 

The very nice women went on to speak to me about her daughter. She said that her daughter was taken away (by the state) when she was a young girl because a long time ago the mothers were blamed for children having what we now call autism. It was assumed that the mothers were not taking proper care of their children. She went on to say that she fought for her daughter and that she was on the committee for the National Council on Disability that had recommended enactment of an Americans with Disabilities Act. 

This wonderful woman told me to never give up hope. I was amazed at what she had told me already, but there was more. She said that her daughter had started to speak at the age of 21. I was astonished and truly admired this woman in the short time that she was there for me. She had clearly had a long journey of experience fighting for her daughter and others with special needs. I am privileged to have met her. She took the time out of her day to lend a shoulder and to tell me to never give up hope. Though this happened several years ago, I will never forget her words of wisdom. She has been truly inspiring throughout the last 18 years. My children are now young adults.

Whether you communicate with words, writing, hand gestures, eyes, sign language, high tech communicative devices, low tech communication systems, etc., it all comes down to communication from the heart.


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