MIDLAND - We've all heard of the PTSA. Now the Permian Basin has created a spin-off of the organization, focused on the special needs community. According to some founding members, this was an important step, especially for the parents of kids with special needs.
"When you get that diagnosis it's a lot like you've been picked up out of the group at large, this group of parents and this group of peers that you've been growing with and having children with, and then all of a sudden you're kind of dropped out on your own," President of the Special Education Parent Teacher Student Association (SEPTSA) Riki Daniels described.
And that's where SEPTSA steps in and offers the support that may have been missing.
"So these big things that we deal with everyday, when you can talk to someone else who's going through it, it just seems smaller," she said.
Daniels, who's the parent of a 10-year-old girl with autism said she has a relatively large group within the special needs community to fall back on, but for many others, that's not the case. "For people who have more of an obscure diagnosis that's even harder, so they need that community, they need those people to come in and be able to say, 'I've been through that same thing,'" she explained.
A handful of parents have been on this mission for about a month now. They say there's a growing need in the area.
According to Co-Founder and Treasurer, Amanda Chandler, "It's not because people are purposefully leaving us out, the general population sometimes doesn't know, and so it's just making sure we have a voice and to let people know that our kids are here and that they would like to be a part of the community," she said.
That includes 17-year-old Troy Taylor who is a special needs student at Midland High. Even though Taylor has Asbergers Syndrome, a subset of autism that makes him anti-social and frustrated at times, he said he "tends to do stuff that the other kids do." He even plays the tuba in their band.
And now, he's stepping up to be a member of SEPTSA to help younger kids.
"If they need me to do something I could do it," he said. "I could help them and they could help me and so it would be easy. It'd be like a back and forth thing."
The group became official Tuesday night by electing its board and creating their bylaws. Now they must hold at least three meetings in the year. But they're planning some extra perks too like carnivals, back to school shindigs, Octoberfest actvities, and handicap accessible field days with events that are appropriate for children with all kinds of needs.
Chandler also said this will give them the opportunity to nominate special needs faculty as teacher of the year and provide other honors to them that may have been overlooked before.
The meetings will be held at Casa de Amigos in Midland and are open to and encouraged for people across the region.
"Overwhelmingly from the community of families who have children with special needs, we've just been overjoyed at their response, they're excited to have this organization; they're asking why there hasn't been one before," Daniels said.
Education Director at Casa De Amigos Chris Stonedale said they're eager to continue filling up the space for this endeavor because it aligns with their own motto to help the community help itself. "And while it is represented, it could be represented a lot higher so these kids don't fall through the cracks," he said.