Education = Inclusion = Friendship
Our goal is to create a more inclusive world for our autistic and neurodiverse kids by educating their peers about ASD and neurodiversity from as young an age as possible to create acceptance, understanding, and friendship.
Every child deserves to have friends and no child deserves to be bullied. Early-childhood education can bring children together, nurture kindness and inclusion, and blur the lines of different abilities. Our program brings this notion to the classroom and community through early-educational initiatives.
Children begin to form the bonds of friendship as early as their toddler years, and young children are naturally open-minded and open-hearted. Families For Inclusion seeks to harness these beautiful innate qualities in our kids as early as possible by teaching them about inclusion and how to have fun with their neurodiverse friends, and friends who have autism, differences and all.
Educate * Embrace * Elevate
As the mother of a child with autism, who is currently non-verbal, my biggest fear is the possibility that the world will not be kind to my sweet boy. I created Families For Inclusion because I am his advocate and I am his voice, and it is my mission to make sure he is understood, accepted, and loved for the amazing human being that he is. And I want the same for all neurodiverse children.
I know Teddy will be ok. I’m not worried about him. It’s the rest of the world I’m concerned about. My mission is to educate everyone in our orbit about autism and about Teddy to make the world kinder for him. He doesn’t need to change for the world - the world need to adapt and change its perceptions of neurodiversity for him.
I began this mission by going classroom to classroom, teaching Teddy's peers about autism, one child at a time. I soon realized that this is something every elementary school classroom in every district needs. And the schools should be providing it.
The earlier that kids learn about this, the easier they will internalize and normalize the information and inclusion will become second nature. With education comes understanding, and the greater the understanding, the lesser the bullying, fear, intimidation, stigmatization, ostracizing, self-consciousness, teasing, exclusion, and hurt.
Let's celebrate our kids with autism and who are neurodiverse by embracing and elevating them through the education of those around them. Beautiful things can happen when we all come together for the happiness of a child. Thank you for being a part of this happiness.
-Gina DeGregorio-Sonbert, Teddy's Mom
Who We Are
Families For Inclusion was created in 2019 by Gina DeGregorio-Sonbert shortly after her son Teddy was diagnosed with autism at two-and-a-half. After speaking to her older son's Pre-K class about what autism is, and teaching the kids about how easy it is to play with and become friends with children who have autism, she received numerous informational requests from other moms who wanted to bring the same type of program to their own children's classrooms. FFI was born out of the desire to unite families across the country in making the world a happy and inclusive place for children with autism and who are neurodiverse.
Gina is a NYC music industry publicist and event producer (who's worked with everyone from Carly Simon to Coldplay), turned autism advocate. She has an MS in Counseling and Clinical Health Psychology from Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine, and is certified in Cognitive Behavior Therapy and Applied Behavior Analysis. She currently resides in New York with her husband Michael and their three children, Maxwell (9), Teddy (7), and Penny (5).