TEMPLE TERRACE — Like most moms, Julie Ames is willing to do whatever it takes for the good of her children.
But unlike the majority of mothers, two of her three daughters have autism coupled with intellectual disabilities.
“Her girls have multiple needs, so she’s really had to navigate the systems as an advocate for her girls,” said Diane McCurly, a nurse at Pepin Academy in Tampa where Ames’ two elder daughters — Maria, 19, and Christina, 17 — were once students.
McCurly added that while unrelenting in her quest to learn about and access all available resources for her special-needs children, Ames’ demeanor is always one of kindness and patience in dealing with every person she encounters.
Ames also is a master at researching new findings and techniques that relate to and could be beneficial for her girls, said longtime friend Karen Namyak.
“Julie is a pretty amazing person to deal with all the things she’s been through and her attitude is tremendous,” Namyak said. “The girls couldn’t ask for a better mother.”
It comes as no surprise to either woman that Ames plans to host “The Special Needs Family Hour,” a weekly program on radio station AM 860 from 1 to 2 p.m. every Sunday, beginning May 10.
“Our goal is to help and inspire those parents and caregivers who are caring for special people,” Ames said. “On the show, I will cover all things related to special needs to include medical, educational and legal issues.”
Dr. Kathi Armstrong, director of pediatric psychology at the University of South Florida, knows the Ames family well. She’s treated Maria and Christina, who’ve both had myriad challenges, including the inability to eat solid food as small children and disturbing behaviors stemming from anxiety issues.
“Julie has such a positive and optimistic approach to the whole thing, and she also has developed quite a network of people who’ve dealt with children with disabilities,” Armstrong said.
Ames is a Georgia Tech graduate and had a successful career as an industrial engineer prior to starting her family. Her plans to get back into the workforce were foiled due to the full-time caregiving responsibilities of raising Maria and Christina, who now attend Focus Academy in Temple Terrace. Ames’ 14-year-old daughter, Anna, attends nearby Corpus Christi Catholic School.
Log on to www.special needsfamilyhour.com to learn more about the program or email Julie Ames at [email protected] hour.com.