I will never forget that moment because her energy was so strong I felt the vibe that she represented something important and she had something to say. After the press conference was over she walked up to me and introduced herself, fast speaking and dominant she said “Hi my name is Daqueen Monroe and I have a non for profit called “The Autism Project” within 3 minutes I was going to be receiving a call from this woman if she doesn’t hear from me soon because she needed to talk to me.
After a few phone calls and running into one another at other community meetings and not being able to really talk due to our busy lifestyles, we finally have come to the moment in time where I get to hear her story and a Story hat is worth sharing with the world.
Autism is a developmental disorder that appears in the first 3 years of life, and affects the brain’s normal development of social and communication skills. Most parents of autistic children suspect that something is wrong by the time the child is 18 months old and seek help by the time the child is age 2. Some children with autism appear normal before age 1 or 2 and then suddenly “regress” and lose language or social skills they had previously gained. This is called the regressive type of autism.
This particular situation happened with Shaquan Daqueens son except it took 9 years for him to be diagnosed correctly. In between that time, the experiences were exhausting, confusing and surprisingly typical for a mother in her position at the time. Shaquan was a normal kid as far as Daqueen was concerned. He was growing and developing normally from the time he was born up until around the age of 21/2. Then she noticed some changes in his social and behavior skills. “He was aggressive, didn’t
want help, then he got quiet and didn’t use any words” said Daqueen. She would question it to her family, friends, and friends of family who were mothers that experienced raising kids already and say that it was normal the way he was behaving. But still knowing something wasn’t right, a friend of the family who worked in behavioral issues said “yeah you’re right something isn’t”. So she did what any mom should do and took her son to be evaluated. By this time, he was 31/2 yrs old.
Unfortunately, he wasn’t diagnosed correctly. The hospital where she had him evaluated diagnosed him as being multiply disabled. This was typical for low-income earners who were on government services such as Medicaid. If something is wrong and you don’t have money and you’re relying on Medicaid, the correct diagnosis is very important because the intervention is linked to the diagnosis’.
By this time while under the impression she knew what was going on with her son, he was getting speech and occupational therapy, she felt as if she was just going through the motions, hoping he would grow out of it. That wasn’t the case by age 7 it seemed that Shaquan was getting worse and he would regress, he would be slobbering and acting out with bad behavior. Between the age of 7-11 were the toughest times even though by age 9 he was correctly diagnosed with Autism and started the journey to becoming the wonderful young man he is today.
He had gone through both Special Ed and BOCES, she fought tooth and nail with the Board of Education, conducted research, and made hundreds of phone calls to advocate for her son and get him the services he needed. Residing in Yonkers NY where at that time in the 90’s the city rarely had anything to service Autistic children.
Finally, her research paid off and a gentleman from Westchester Health stepped in to help get Daqueen and Shaquan on track. Not only did he mail her different books with a bunch of schools to service him, he also took her to visit the schools to help him get in. What a blessing that was! Finally, Shaquan was placed in a wonderful school by age 11 not to far from his mom and though the road from there on wasn’t easy it did restore hope and offered opportunity. Still not having a place for him to go during home visits for special needs extra curricular activities and mingle with kids with the same disabilities that was affordable or free, those visits were hard.
Even now at 21 she still has trouble with connecting Shaquan with friends and activities. Although Autism has grown its awareness due to the ever so popular Autism Speaks Campaign/Organization, most services are for younger children. That brings us to today. From experiencing having a child that was typical and developing normally, to having a major problem being a shock to her system, not being able to work or keep a steady job, experiencing watching her son being dumped together with other kids like himself and not really getting the help they needed, things took a toll on this mom.
But to God be the glory, through the rocky road of as she puts it “fighting a battle but fighting the wrong thing”, battling with powers that be, not being able to keep job and so on… This mom, Ms. Daqueen Monroe who has a MBA in Business and her Undergrad in health gave birth to THE AUTISM PROJECT-FLOS with a dream of Servicing the AUTISM Community through Recreational Therapeutic Recreation for Special needs autistic children is READY, EDUCATED WITH PERSONAL EXPERIENCE AND WILLING to lay it all on the line and continue to fight and Advocate not only for her son but for other families with autistic children.
You never stop fighting for your child, its a constant battle for those who are not financially stable or wealthy and even they continue to go through the motions. Why not bring some relief, hope and education to families who go the extra mile in all that they do to make sure their children have the best life possible.
THE AUTISM PROJECT-FLOS- Goals of servicing Pre-teens, Teens, and Young Adults with Autism. A facility where Fun Cool things are done for the kids and friends for both child and parent can be made. Music, art, physical, and aquatic therapy under one roof. Workshops and information. Well that sounds awesome to me. A Vision and a Dream worth supporting don’t you agree?
WE ALL SHOULD TAKE HEED TO THIS AND REMEMBER THAT THERE IS VICTORY AGAINST ALL ODDS. Daqueen made a statement that wealthy people are at an advantage with services for their children. At first I didn’t quite agree until I heard her story of being a mother on Government services due to a disability of her child and from being THE ADVOCATE and seeing both ends of social and economic living conditions from Housing-Eduation.
I can definitely apply the advantages and disadvantages. She proves that you can make Lemonade out of Lemons although she need funding and has been in the community seeking assistance from leaders and parents. She is praying that someone will hear her story and take a chance on her vision. From the day I met her I can see that that won’t be a problem for her at all. If you are interested in helping or finding out more information for THE AUTISM PROJECT-FLOS please visit www.facebook.com/theautismprojectflos
I AM THE ADVOCATE AND I APPROVE THIS CAUSE!!!! BY: LEKIA K. HILL,”THE ADVOCATE”