Local mother creates autism support group for parents 

Nikki Gallagher remembers how she felt when her son was diagnosed with autism. “I felt really lonely,” she said. “At that moment in time, I wish I had someone to reach out to.” 

Her son, Elliot, was one at the time when she discovered changes in his behavior. 

“When he was one, he would talk a little bit here and there,” she says. “We kind of noticed it trailed off a bit. He would quit talking. I noticed he would line up toys and he started to bang his head on the walls. We were a bit concerned.” 

Nikki, who is a Community Health Center of Southeast Kansas medical assistant, brought it up to her son’s pediatrician at CHC/SEK. From there, the evaluations began a three-year process for Elliot and his family. She was connected to community resources to help with the diagnosis process and the evaluations. 

One thing Nikki wishes she had in the beginning was a group of parents who are caregivers to children living with autism or special needs. So, she created one. 

“It’s definitely something I needed, a community,” she says, adding that she decided to create a space where people can come together and know they are not alone and can share stories and advice. “I want us to all be there for each other.” 

The Autism/Special Needs Parenting Support Group has its first meeting at 5:30 p.m. on June 26 at the Pittsburg Public Library. For more information you can reach Nikki at 620-704-4813. 

CHC/SEK clinics not only bring valuable healthcare resources into the communities it serves, but its staff also contribute to the quality of life in their hometowns. This is an example of how employee volunteer efforts make a difference in their communities. 

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