Mother of autistic twins bringing awareness to the disorder around Shasta County

Apr 2, 2014 8:43 PM

Today is World Autism Awareness Day -- 1 in 68 children are diagnosed with the disorder.

One mother in Shasta County is trying to bring awareness to her community.

It's a typical morning for jennifer ortiz of happy valley..and her twin boys -- dylan and shane.

They were diagnosed with autism when they were just 18 months old -- the twins are now 3 1/2.

"...being a parent should be a wonderful thing, and it's been stress for me from day one."

It's a struggle for Jennifer, who has a hard time when she's out in public with her sons.

" customer yelled at me and mimicked my son when I was at Walmart."

She also gets a lot of looks and snide comments.

"...It discourages me and makes me feel like a bad parent...I feel down on myself."

If it already wasn't enough for Jennifer to deal with 2 boys who have autism -- and a community that doesn't understand her situation -- now she has to deal with the school.

" sons are a part of several programs...but it's not enough."

One of Jennifer's biggest concerns is the lack of trained staff and programs developed for autism.

"...special education teachers attend training sessions to learn to work with children who have autism..."

Jennifer's twins attend Buckeye School of the Arts in Redding -- and she says the two classrooms they have for autism are full.

Instead, her twins were placed with children who have severe learning disabilities.

"...they're in the wrong environment."

" doesn't make a difference where you put child to learn."

Jennifer doesn't feel the school district is being empathetic to her concerns, so she's raising awareness through a Facebook page she created.

"My goal is to raise awareness and work with businesses to create a support group to help parents...these kids are our future."

The Shasta County School District says it works with organizations like "Far Northern" and "Great Partnership" to provide special education services geared toward students with autism.


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