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Do you work outside the home? I was a junior high teacher for five years. I now own Five Guys Burger & Fries locations in Avon, Westlake and North Olmsted with my family.

What do you do to relax?
I mostly read or watch old episodes of sitcoms like the Golden Girls.

What have been your favorite CFK resources? Connecting for Kids has been a great resource for my family. My son has enjoyed both the Music Therapy & MoreSM sessions and the Teach Me To PlaySM. I have really benefited from the Coffee and Chats and Parent Discussion Groups with local expert speakers. This group has given me, personally, the reassurance that there are many parents out there going through challenges and I am not alone.

How has parenting a child who struggles changed your idea of parenting?
I have never been a very judgmental person when it comes to parenting. If I see a child somewhere throwing a fit, I would never assume the parent was doing a bad job and should be better at disciplining their child.

With that being said, I used to think that parenting was pretty much the same for every child across the board. Parenting a child who struggles certainly has opened my eyes to the fact that you can't parent every child the same way and you have to be willing to try new things. My children are human, not robots, so they are different. It became very clear that what worked in the past with my older son wouldn't work with my younger son who struggled with his development. So I had to change.

The great thing is that I think I am a better parent because of it. I found that the techniques I tried with my younger son not only worked for him, but also worked better for my older son. You have to humble yourself to know when something isn't working and make changes. I have since realized that is what parenting is. My job isn't to raise robots; it is to raise two men who will be happy and successful in life. In the end, it doesn't really matter how we get there, just that we get there.

If I could go back in time to the day of the diagnosis, I'd say to myself... It's a bit of a tough road ahead, but you've got this! You are strong enough to do what you need to do for your son. God gave him to you because He knows you will do everything in your power to help him. You will feel discouraged, upset and frustrated but you won't give up. He is your son and he deserves your best. That is exactly what you'll give him.

Is there anything else about your journey that you would like to share with other parents? Reach out for help. Other parents can be the greatest resource out there to lend support. Just remember, there will be days you feel discouraged, but keep your chin up. Things do get better.

Marissa is the parent of two children.

Faces of Connecting for Kids (CFK) is a monthly feature that appears in our subscribers-only eNewsletter. The parents profiled in Faces of CFK have provided their information to help others walking a similar path to know that they are not alone. If you are interested in providing your own profile for a Faces of CFK feature, please complete this form.

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