One of the disadvantages of having an autistic child is that it’s often hard for other families to understand and relate. In an effort to connect with other moms like her, Jessica Kitney created Coffee With a Side of Autism.
Coffee With a Side of Autism is a family support group for parents and children who have family members on the autism spectrum. At each meeting, families in the Belleville, Canada community are able to meet others who can understand and relate to daily life struggles.
Kitney founded this support group as a result of her son, Andy, being diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Andy, who is on the severe end of the autism spectrum, is also nonverbal. The daily struggle was difficult for Kitney, so in late March she started the organization.
Kitney says that Andy has helped her grow so much. She credits him as her inspiration for getting the support group off the ground. During Kitney and Andy’s journey, Kitney felt that finding support was hard and that many friends distanced themselves after learning about Andy’s diagnosis.
Coffee With a Side of Autism provides families with support and play group. Parents, caregivers, and kids are all welcome. The group meets for two hours every fourth Monday of the month. Parents and children are not required to register, and the flexible meetings allow them to show up whenever is convenient for them. Kitney says she understands that sometimes problems arise and members aren’t able to make it. By knowing this, she wanted to create a support group that was easy-going and comfortable for all who come out.
By offering playgroup, Coffee With a Side of Autism is also an opportunity for children with ASD to make friends. Social interactions and communication skills are a known difficulty for autistic kids, so by having a playgroup, the like-minded kids are able to relate to each other.
By Sejal Sheth