A Kansas City mother has gone above and beyond to use her personal experiences with a special needs child to help other parents.
Becky Ottinger's role as the executive director of the Joshua Center in Kansas City is much more than a job. For her, it's personal.
In 1987 her son, Josh, was diagnosed with Tourette syndrome, obsessive-compulsive disorder, anxiety and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.
"I just knew that I needed to spend the rest of my life doing whatever I needed to do to help Josh be successful," Ottinger said.
She didn't limit her work to just Josh. She quit her teaching job, instead devoting all of her time passing along what she had learned about these disorders to help other families.
"I wanted to start something like this. I believe it takes a village. It takes the doctor, the counselor and the teacher and everybody working together to help these kids and the families. I believe you help the schools and that's what we do," she said.
She opened the Joshua Child and Family Development Center in 1996.
It provides counseling, social skills groups and camps for children. The mission is to help children and their families living with disorders such as Tourettes, Asperger syndrome, high-functioning autism, OCD and ADHD.
"There an awful lot of people that will tell you and advise you what to do, institutionalize. I had a principal tell me one time that some kids just don't make it and you just can't let that happen," Ottinger said.
Through a system of games, children who might normally appear anti-social are learning to interact, learning empathy and learning to function in the mainstream.
While the focus is on the children, parents also find support the minute they walk into the door.
"The greatest thing that I think we do here is we provide support for the parents. You can walk into our waiting room. There's usually quite a few parents waiting to see one of the therapists and they're getting support from us. They can tell any store and we can say yeah we've heard that before. You can't go anywhere else and get that kind of support," she said.
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