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Cohasset, MA: Support for parents of "neurodiverse children"/upcoming workshop


Photo courtesy of Raising Harts

Raising Harts, a non-profit started by Cohasset mother Candice Hartford, focuses on connecting neurodiverse children and their parents and siblings with other families who share similar challenges in order to provide support and encouragement to one another, to share resources, and to enjoy a variety of activities within a safe, judgment-free environment.
The word "neurodiverse" relates to children diagnosed with autism, Tourette Syndrome, dyslexia, dyscalculia, epilepsy, hyperlexia, dyspraxia, ADHD, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), and developmental delay.

A recent outing at Cohasset Sailing Club is an example of the kinds of happy, inclusive experiences Raising Harts families are sharing that make a difference in their lives….

"CSC took so much away from this event, and our instructors got so much out of it," Commodore Deb Johnson told the Cohasset Anchor. "We look forward to making it a yearly tradition."

Each child and a parent went for a sail out of Cohasset Harbor with a CSC instructor in one of the Club's training fleet RS Quests.

The families also had an opportunity to interact with Hingham Police Department comfort dog, Opry, and her handler -- Hingham High School Resource Officer Thomas Ford -- along with Trish Morse from the Cohasset Working Dog Foundation and canine ambassador Parker, which added to the fun.

This event was made possible through a generous grant from South Shore Music Circus. South Shore-based Raising Harts is open to all families, from those who are already active within neurodiverse communities to others who may be feeling overwhelmed about a new diagnosis for a family member.

The mission is to grow a warm, supportive, and empowering community for families with neurodiverse children in which they can enrich their lives and grow together.

Hartford created Raising Harts on behalf of her twin boys, Keaton and Grady (now age 6) -- who are both on the autism spectrum -- and their sister, Isla, who is now 4 -- after she, her husband, Kenny, and their family moved to Cohasset in 2016….

While the twins participated in the Cohasset Public Schools integrated preschool at Osgood School -- which Hartford called "an amazing experience" -- more was needed to help their and other families struggling with similar challenges find more inclusive activities that they could enjoy together.

After the pandemic hit -- which drastically impacted the twins' usual activities, social engagements, and therapies, it became even more important to find ways to overcome the increasing feeling of isolation, Hartford explained.

As a result, she made it her mission to create safe experiences where her and others' neurodiverse kids could just be kids and she and other mothers could just be "moms."…


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