Syrenthia Farris is the host of (A) Moms Happy Hour, a podcast where the topics are geared around autism and the special needs community, but still, their humorous and eye-opening stories are relatable to those raising all abilities. Learn more about her journey raising a son on the autism spectrum and leading her organization, Parents of Children with All Special Needs.
Tell us about yourself and (A) Moms Happy Hour.
I am a mother of two beautiful children. My daughter Amber is typical, and amazing. My son Stephen has a diagnosis of autism and he is equally amazing. Through advocacy he has made tremendous strides. I am also the Founder and CEO of Parents of Children with All Special Needs. We provide caregivers with self-care services. (A) Moms Happy Hour is a podcast geared at helping moms and caregivers to take at least 30 mins per day to kick their feet up and relax. They can pull up a seat and sip on their favorite beverage while they listen to the reality of raising autism. Even though Stephen is 29 years old, I’m still raising autism with a lot of humor behind it. (A) Moms Happy Hour also hosts a monthly Meet & Greet at different venues with our parents, caregivers, and supporters.
What perspective do you bring to the much-needed conversations on (A) Moms Happy Hour, and what impact do you hope this podcast has for listeners?
As a mother of a child with special needs, I know what it is like to be overwhelmed with the daily responsibility of caring for a child with autism; especially after being isolated for so many years and not socializing myself with other parents, caregivers, friends, and family. I want our listeners to know socializing is OK and you don’t have to feel guilty about it!! Oh! And have as much fun as you can with it! So, come on out and have a good time and meet other parents, caregivers, and supporters in our special needs community and enjoy — enjoy yourself.
What was the journey of your son's autism diagnosis?
My son Stephen was diagnosed at the age of 3 years old. One day, the Administrator called me at work from my son's daycare and asked if I could stop by her office before picking him up. I can remember that day like it was yesterday. She said to me, "Mrs. Farris, I believe your son has Autism. He doesn't socialize with the other children, prefers to play alone, lines all his toys up..." etc.
Now at 29 years old, he’s a social butterfly giving about 6 or more different hand shakes until he’s re-directed lol. Stephen is the joy of my life; my teacher. And he’ll just win your heart with his huge smile and beautiful soul. There’s never a dull moment with him. His diagnosis does define a lot of things but it doesn’t define love and he certainly spread lots of it.
What resources or support systems were vital to your family as Stephen transitioned into adulthood?
It was very important to utilize the local services in our area and research adult services. There are many programs for children with autism, but not as many programs for adults with autism. It is vital for me to have family support. Without my family, I would not have been able to get this far. Financial well-being and an income were also important. Without financial provisions, my choices and options would have been limited.
You are also the founder and CEO of Parents of Children with All Special Needs. What inspired you to create this non-profit?
I experienced burn out. It was devastating, and I had to take deliberate methods to get back to myself. After I worked myself back to a healthy place, I vowed to help other parents to maintain their needs as well. I learned how to take a break and care for my basic needs; specifically, exercising and tending to my health and wellness needs.
Society gets so caught up in the disease and not the one living within the disease. Parents of Children with all Special Needs (POCWASN) cares about the ones living within the disease. With that being said, P.O.C.W.A.S.N was born and provides services for all parents and caregivers of individuals with all abilities.
What is the greatest lesson or eye-opening moment you've gained from working alongside Jaime and Atiati on (A) moms happy hour?
I am learning more about them through their personal pursuits, though we have been friends for a while. I am amazed by their strength and perseverance as both professionals and caregivers.