Hi, I’m Crystal, the owner of the Sanford Autism Advocacy Group, LLC (SAAG)! If you’re wondering who we are, let me tell you a story that might give you a glimpse into the SAAG team and family…
I met a mom recently at a networking event, specifically for women in my town. We were all there to share about our businesses, make connections, etc. At the end of our final table rotation, one woman who had heard me share about SAAG recommended that I speak to another woman at the event...let's just call her Jane. She said that Jane was concerned about her daughter.
In speaking with Jane, she shared that her daughter was three years old. Her daughter wasn’t speaking yet. Actually, she was only saying sounds…not even words. She also had “ticks” as Jane described. Given these concerns, my mind went right to Autism, given the current prevalence rate of 1:36 children being identified as somewhere on the spectrum by age eight. So, I asked Jane if she had investigated her concerns for her daughter with a doctor or anyone in the community.
Jane said “No…I’m scared.” She began to cry. Was she scared to find out that something might be “wrong” with her daughter? That’s the feeling that she exuded through her tears.
I immediately looked Jane in the eyes and reassured her that her daughter was amazing and had many gifts, even though I had never met her. It’s true because at SAAG we believe that all children are uniquely gifted to do amazing things in the world. They just need the right supports, resources, and people who believe in them.
Jane agreed and said that her daughter was smart and creative, etc. Yet, you could tell that Jane was still very concerned. She apparently had an older son who was eight, playing baseball, and doing well in school. So, she had no specific idea what might be going on for her daughter. Yet, Jane’s gut told her that something was "different" and that her daughter needed support in some way.
As our conversation continued, I added that a “label” or a diagnosis (if that was the case) would not take anything away from who her daughter was. But it could open the door to potential resources, therapies, etc. as well as a better understanding of how uniquely designed her daughter was.
Jane smiled and nodded as her tears lessened. Later I gave her one of my books. She asked for a hug, which I also gave willingly. Hopefully she left this interaction with…HOPE!
At SAAG, this is why we do what we do. We get you because we ARE you. We’ve either been down the exact road that you are traveling, or we have held the hand of those close to us on this journey.
We get up every day…stepping away from our own lives, challenges, questions, aspirations, etc. to step into the lives of neurodivergent families and offer them HOPE.
If you are in need of help in any way, we’d be honored to be your tour guide along your Autism and/or IEP journey. We’re only an email, call, or text away…
Crystal Sanford, M.Ed., M.A. CCC-SLP, ASDCS is an Educational Consultant, IEP & Autism Advocate and Speech-Language Pathologist. She is also the host of inspiring podcasts, Thriving Special Families and Thriving Autism Families! Her passion is advocating STRONG alongside fellow Autism and other fellow parents of neurodiverse children, helping them to persistently pursue what their children deserve at school. In her free time, she enjoys gardening and spending time with her husband and two children in San Diego, CA.