Family With Autistic Teens Battles to Survive the Pandemic
April Marks World Autism Awareness Month
“Are we there yet?” is a well-known question kids ask their parents in the car over and over again, but for Oceanport, New Jersey resident Mike Ciavolino and his wife Laura, the endless question in their household with teen triplets (two of whom are on the autism spectrum) is “will the pandemic ever end?”
For the Ciavolino family, life with two special needs teens is already difficult and stressful. Add in a year-long pandemic, they quickly entered survival mode.
“The pandemic led to increased anxiety, isolation, stress, and uncertainty for most people; and living through it with two special needs teens, was very overwhelming,” said Ciavolino. “We had many meltdowns. This past year has given us a run for our money. When the pandemic disrupted in-person learning, regular doctor and therapist appointments, and extra-curricular activities—like being student manager of the high school football team—the walls caved in. It became a real battle to survive, but we did.”
Ciavolino, a podcaster, marketing agency CEO, and soon-to-be author of his first book SuperParent™, (expected to be released February of 2022), is ready to offer support on how parents with special needs children break free from fear, overwhelm, and anxiety to live their best lives.
Mike’s podcast “Empowered not Impaired” at empowerednotimpairedpodcast.com provides a platform for how to support special needs children and their families. Many of his podcast guests have defied the odds and Ciavolino’s goal is to profile the hero stories, including:
● former Michigan State University Basketball Final Four Tournament team player Anthony Ianni (episode 3, which airs April 2), who is on the autism spectrum and is currently an anti-bullying motivational speaker;
● Meg Barnhart (episode 1, which aired March 19), a successful entrepreneur and mother who started Zen of Slow Cooking as a way to manage time constraints, while engaging her special needs child and fulfilling the needs of her other growing children and full schedules. Meg’s business mission is to provide adults with special needs job opportunities.
● Dr. Edward Aldarelli (episode 2, which aired March 26), an educator for over 25 years shares information and tips for parents with a special needs child or children. Dr. Aldarelli offers ways schools and parents can formulate a partnership.
● Matt Siegal (episode 4), a financial advisor who works with parents of special needs children. Siegal provides recommendations for parents to ensure their financial plans are consistent with a family’s goals and values.
● Jamie Rahrig (episode 5), mother of a son who is breaking stereotypes for teens with Down’s Syndrome by competing in world-wide powerlifting.
These guests come humbly, offering insight and inspiration to parents everywhere who feel like they’re going it alone.
Ciavolino is appreciative of the parents with special needs children decades ago who were the trailblazers when having special needs children had a big stigma. He wants to help play this role for new parents with the message that having a special needs child in your life is not a detour.
“Raising special needs children isn’t easy, especially during a pandemic; but we got through it a little bit stronger. Special needs parents struggle to get their arms around everything. This is the life we were meant to live. It is not the life for which we prepared. It is a different life, and it has many more blessings that we may not have uncovered as of yet. We can do this, together.”
While life hasn’t fully resumed back to near normal, Ciavolino shared the following tips that have helped his family better manage the pandemic:
● Get in concert with your child’s therapist during increased times of stress
● Find some “me” time
● Explore the outdoors with your family
● Make sure you practice self-care
● Find your tribe for extra support
● Slowly begin to ‘reopen’ your lives
About Mike Ciavolino
Mike Ciavolino is an author, speaker, podcast host, and marketing agency CEO who is first and foremost a dad to teenage triplets—two of whom are on the autism spectrum.
His first book, SuperParent is expected to release in February of 2022. This book chronicles his life as a special needs dad. while Mike offers stories, insight, and advice on how parents of special needs children break free from fear, overwhelm, and anxiety to live their best lives.
Mike’s message to his audience is that having a special needs child in your life is not a detour. It is the life you were meant to live. He brings this message home in Super Parent through the courageous stories of his own family and of other parents. Mike offers great value to parents, caregivers, friends, and healthcare workers who touch (and are touched by) the lives of special needs children and their families.
Mike’s podcast, Empowered not Impaired, brings experts with a variety of backgrounds in the realm of supporting special needs children and their families. Whether from his book, speaking engagements, or podcast, Mike shares the vulnerable side of overcoming the challenges of being a special needs parent in the most authentic way. His book includes valuable tips and teaching points on everything from preparing for vacations to working with a financial advisor to finding (and believing in the need for) some “me” time for yourself, and more.
Mike was employed for 30 years in the marketing and advertising industry, learning from the ground up on Madison Avenue in New York City before opening his own agency, Shore Creative Group in 2008.
Mike spent a large portion of his career writing content, ad copy, and blogs for his agency’s numerous clients, which helped nurture a love for writing that has shown through in all of his current projects. Mike is a graduate of William Paterson University in Wayne, NJ with a B.A. in Communications. He resides in Oceanport, NJ with his loving wife, Laura; the triplets, Michael, Francesca, and Nicholas; and their rescue dog, Lewis. For more information, please visit: https://mikeciavolino.com
To schedule an interview with Mike Ciavolino, please contact Donna Hondorp at DHCommunicationsmi@gmail.com or 517-449-9815.