Richmond woman creates support network for families with special needs children

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Good Morning Richmond is celebrating amazing women where you live. 8News anchor Amanda Malkowski met a woman who saw a need for families with specials needs children and created a source for them to come together.

Marky is the inspiration behind his mother, Carissa Garabedian’s project.

“How I describe Marky and how my family describes Marky is the kindest soul,” Carissa said. “He’s somebody who just loves to make you laugh, is always smiling.”

Marky is on the autism spectrum, and when the family moved to Richmond eight years ago, Carissa was looking for a support network.

“There really was very little that was offered for families that had kids with special needs,” she said.

So she created one of her own called “knowdifferent.net.”

“Educational information and resources but also a human element of families that do have children with special needs…what their lives are like…that we’re really not that different,” she said.

Carissa’s drive and passion are also encouraging her family.

“It’s really inspiring to have a role model, a female role model in my life who has made a difference in so many other people’s lives, and it’s motivating me to do something like that myself,” said Carissa’s daughter, Sophia Garabedian.

The project fosters a sense of community for those with kids with specials needs and those wanting to learn.

“For us it’s autism, but special needs is such a large spectrum,” Carissa said. “And the goal for us I think is to continue to let families know there’s a place we can share information, we can learn, and we can come together.”

She and her family want to remind families that they’re not alone.

“When I get the e-mails from readers asking me what to do or how to do it, or what it was like for me or tell me it’s going to be okay and there’s that connection that I know that I’m making a difference,” she said. “I know I’m doing the right thing.”

Carissa is always looking for submissions to her website, even from teenagers or kids themselves who want to share their stories.

Never miss another Facebook post from 8News

Find 8News on TwitterFacebook, and Instagram; send your news tips to iReport8@wric.com.