By Terrence Jenkins
CCC Journalism Program
BLACKWOOD – Two local mothers of autistic children spoke about their experiences with autism on April 28 in Civic Hall at Camden County College.
The two mothers, Debbie Schmidt and Christy Carlson, formed the non-profit Just 2 Moms to bring awareness of autism to local elementary schools. The two sought to share information about raising children with different types of autism.
They gave a two-hour lecture about everything from personal accounts to the medical facts about autism.
Autism is a mental condition that presents itself in early childhood. It can be characterized by difficulty in communicating with others and using language and abstract concepts. A range of types of autism can be classified on the autism spectrum.
“We were just two regular moms who both had a child with certain needs. We just wanted parents and children to understand what it is like to be someone considered autistic and different,” Carlson said about why she and Schmidt started Just 2 Moms. “Just because someone communicates different and learns different than you doesn’t mean they’re not allotted the same opportunities.”
The women dedicated a majority of the lecture to talking about their sons, who suffer from Asperger’s Syndrome and Persuasive Development Disorder. They told stories of the challenges that their sons had to go through academically, mentally and socially and spoke of the rewards from the experiences.
“Even though my son may have trouble communicating, he is still a wonderful student, friend and overall human being. He attends SUNY Purchase and wants to become a screenwriter, and why should autism stop him?” said Schmidt.
The women held an open-floor discussion, allowing audience members to ask questions during their presentation. Toward the end of the lecture, Carlson and Schmidt showed an eight-minute video they made with 13 fifth-graders. The video acted as a guide to defining autism, listing famous people with autism and showing different scenarios of the challenges an autistic person can face.
At the end of the discussion, audience members were allowed to talk further with Carlson and Schmidt one on one.
To learn more about the organization, make a donation or invite the two mothers to speak at a school or event, visit just2moms.com.