This Mother of an Autistic Boy Became a Sense of Solace for Thousands
I met Nunu Sanchez several years ago through a mutual friend in the autism world. I have never regretted it. When I first spoke to Nunu I was lost, so lost. I had no idea what to do for my children who both held autism diagnoses at the time. I had no idea what to do for myself, and I had no voice. I owe everything I have become, no matter how small, to this woman. She helped me find the advocate inside of me, gave me confidence to release my first book, then my second, all the way to my soon to be sixth book, not only that, but she introduced me to a support group that ended up meaning more to me than I ever imagined it would.
Mrs. Nunu Sanchez is one of four [3 active] administrators of a large international autism support group online. Nunu is the one of the 3 active administrators that is in charge. The group is her baby. She ran the group of over 20,000 members by herself for years. Making it a large priority in her life. Nunu has dedicated the last several years of her life to helping parents with autistic children and autistic adults. She lives in Wisconsin and is the mother of 3 children. Tony is 12 and has P.D.D.N.O.S. Natalya is 17 and Jasmine is 7, both 'neurotypical.' I noticed directly after meeting Mrs. Sanchez for the first time, years ago, that she has a way about her that calms any situation she’s in.
When monitoring her support group she has this grace about her that I observed helps her members feel comfortable enough to open up with the group and get help. She has a gift for motivating people and a naivety about her that allows her not to realize how amazing what she does is or how much of an inspiration she has become for thousands of lost parents. Nunu has it all, she is definitely a role model for all parents of autistic children. I know she is for me
Brooke: Thank you so much for letting me interview you Nunu. I want to jump right in. Can you start by maybe telling me what has been the hardest part about raising Tony? How have you coped with it?
Nunu: I’d say understanding where he’s coming from and what he is going through so I can help him especially during meltdowns. When he has meltdowns it can be anything from not being able to communicate his needs, or communicate that he‘s in pain or sensory overload or any combination of those things. When he was younger he used to meltdown, severely, several times a day. They used to be very violent and self-injuring and lasted for over an hour. That’s not including the less severe ones he had during the day.
I would have never coped with it all as well as I have if it wasn’t for the connections I’ve made with other Autism parents online. I felt so supported and not alone. I’ve received priceless advice and that alone saved me.
Brooke: Meltdowns are the hardest. Zain use to have bad ones like that too. Some nights I would just cry. You know through group, just like I do, that a lot of us parents have one thing that they accredit a large amount of our child’s success too. What would your one thing be? Therapy? A certain teacher?
Nunu: ABA Therapy! That is the best thing that ever happened to Tony. I was fortunate to have ABA providers that were wonderful and never once did anything I didn’t approve of. I’ve heard of horrible ABA stories like some providers did not let the child stim, but that wasn’t the case with my providers. They were a godsend. They helped him communicate, gain important life skills, and they taught me how to help him in his everyday life.
Brooke: I remember when Tony received in home ABA Therapy. It made all the difference. A lot of parents say that. So, why don’t you go ahead and divulge what Tony’s diagnosis is? Does he have any distinguishing co-morbid disorders?
Nunu: Tony’s main axis diagnosis is PDD-NOS. He has co-morbid disorders of global developmental delay, severe speech delay, and sensory processing disorder.
Brooke: Thank you for being open with that. Did the doctor(s) diagnose it right off the bat or did he go through several misdiagnoses?
Nunu: His primary physician didn’t listen to our concerns. We didn’t know it was autism at first but we knew something had to be wrong. She told us, “It’s nothing. He’s a boy.” but that wasn’t good enough. Then my sister in law mentioned Autism and we went through other avenues to pursue a diagnosis.
Brooke: If you had to pick one defining emotion that you felt whenever you first heard that your child has autism what would you say it was? Why?