Channel 7, New Oakland and “The Circle Never Ends”
By Jeffrey Sendi, DO
As the metro area’s most recognized child-adolescent mental health clinic, we at New Oakland are excited to be a part of a Channel 7’s half-hour special on Sunday, September 23rd at 5:30. “The Circle Never Ends” is about an amazing charity that we’ve partnered with called the “Friendship Circle.”
From its modest beginnings in 1994, the Friendship Circle has provided companionship for children with special needs and, just as importantly, respite care to the parents of these children. Thousands of metro area kids, about 70% of them are children on the autism spectrum, have been helped in profound ways.
Autism is a developmental disability or pervasive developmental disorder. With spectrum disorders, we see a wide range in severity of illness. Sadly, we still don’t have a real handle on what the cause of autism is. There is a lot of research showing that there’s a genetic predisposition. 50 years ago, in our ignorance, it was attributed to poor parenting. Clearly, we’ve learned that that’s not the case.
At New Oakland we deal with a wide range of mental disorders, including autism, and as you move through our website you’ll become familiar with many of them as well as the warning signs. Diagnosis is the real professional challenge all of us face, and we diligently deal with it on a daily basis.
Is my child ADD, or is his inability to focus the result of something else or just a childhood phase? We take evaluation very seriously and try to avoid the pitfalls of overmedicating and taking the “easy way out.” Only after proper diagnosis is treatment truly effective.
Unlike New Oakland Family Centers, the Friendship Circle isn’t about doctors, diagnosis or medication. It’s about giving children with special needs the friendships that are critical to their socialization. Most of them are unable to make or maintain friendships, and the Friendship Circle utilizes a veritable army of teen volunteers to befriend these children. And that’s where the “magic” takes place.
Teenagers today are overwhelmed with pressure. Their peers judge how they look, how smart they are, how much money they have and whether or not their good looking. But when paired with a child with special needs, they feel no judgment and are loved for the most universal and wonderful reason: simply being a friend.
We think you’ll be deeply moved by this documentary and in watching it, will better understand our mission at New Oakland. We invite you to tune in September 23 at 5:30 or September 30 at 3:30.