Eight years ago when I walked into my first ABA company for an interview my only connection to the field was from an internship in a counseling center where I was taught to assist a young girl with autism through her family therapy group. I was intrigued by the therapy techniques taught and curious to learn so much more. It led me on an educational and career path that has molded me into the person I am today. Who knew that years later I would find myself noticing the signs of autism in my own son and going through all of the steps of diagnostic appointments, therapy assessments and IEP (Individual Education Plan) meetings. I am still pretty amazed at how I have dedicated my life to working with special needs families and I am now walking directly in their shoes.
Being an autism parent has made me a better practitioner; it has created a broader understanding of not only the needs of the child, but the entire family. Becoming a practitioner first has definitely provided me with the knowledge to teach specific skills and understand behavior, but I am still human. I do not have a special superpower that separates me from the challenges that come from being a parent of a special needs child.
My son was diagnosed just over a year ago. When I reflect on this past year there have been a lot of ups and downs, and to be honest some experiences that I would like to swipe from memory. But I choose to go through life one day at a time to the best of my ability and focus on all the positives because they outweigh anything that may bring me down; they keep me going strong. I choose to be happy (even though I am usually a pretty happy person) and to surround myself with supportive, loving and encouraging people who build me up because it helps me realize that I am not alone in this journey.
So, when I am asked about becoming a practitioner and then becoming an autism mom I tell them that I have my days (like most people do) but I am blessed. I am blessed to work in an environment and career that I truly love and I am passionate about. I am blessed because I have a smart, unique and courageous son who amazes me everyday with what he has learned and continues to learn on a daily basis. I am blessed because I have an incredible kid that will be able to show the world that his autism is just a part of him and it does not define who he is.
Welcome to my blog everyone! Tune in every week or so for updates on my upcoming book, The Incredible Cam Man, autism news, events and simply what may just be on my mind.