When Christina Blakey’s 3½-year-old son was diagnosed with autism in 2003, a California-based Web site became her lifeline.
"It provides you with a lot of information in a non-biased format," Blakey says of TACA, or Talk About Curing Autism. With celebrity spokeswoman Jenny McCarthy garnering national attention, TACA began to branch out beyond California last year. And when it came time to launch a Chicago division last April, Blakey was quick to jump on board.
"The parents who get the farthest with treatment and recovery are the parents who reach out," says Blakey of her decision to join TACA in Chicago as a co-coordinator.
Chicago’s chapter of TACA offers mostly free programs, including a once-monthly support group meeting featuring guest speakers and time for local families to connect. Meetings are from 4-6 p.m. on the second Saturday of each month at Macy’s in the Woodfield Center Mall in Schaumburg. Two or three times a year, the Chicago branch of TACA offers New Parent Training Seminars, which are a sort of "boot camp" for families, Blakey says. These all-day events focus on issues like maintaining the right diet and advocating for your child in school.
Ultimately, Blakey says she hopes a TACA branch in Chicago will help to strengthen local families with autistic children.
"We really need to get a lot of support within our own community," she says.