***Note #1: So I’m thinking about making a free product for you, but it’s going to take a good amount of time to make it. So before I commit to it, I want to make sure you would be interested. Check out the bottom of my blog for more details.
***Note #2: This post is a follow up to THIS post. I was thrilled to see what an enthusiastic response this post got and I received lots of comments (and I did my best to respond to as many comments as possible)!
In my last post, I pulled back the curtain and shared a personal process, what I call the “big shift”, that has begun in my life since my last birthday and where this shift is heading in terms of my personal life and in my work.
Today I want to share this a bit further and explain more about where this ‘big shift’ is coming from and begin the creation of the exciting, swelling movement forward!
So, here goes…
Why I do what I do (and what it has to do with the night I spent in a NYC prison).
Being an autism specialist, in many ways, is all I know (besides being a mother of course).
But how did it begin and why is it what I do anyway?
Let me paint a picture of what put me on this path just about 20 years ago.
I was a senior at Barnard College in New York City and I felt a deep desire to be of service and find what I was meant to do in this world. I supervised homeless shelters, became a part of the Big Brother/Big Sister program where I was matched with a very special little girl, Starasia. She lived in Harlem with her grandmother and siblings and we spent every Sunday together for years (this was the total highlight of my week). Check out this picture I just found from 1994:
I delivered food to people who were HIV positive and participated in demonstrations that protested budget cuts for inner city schools.
And yes, that’s what landed me in the NYC prison (yup, that’s me on the left):
I still remember that phone call to my parents; “Umm Mom….” Oy. The things I put my parents through…
Anyhow, the thing is this: as meaningful as each of these activities were, none of them felt like my fight. None of them felt like my mission. And so, I continued to search restlessly to find what MY path of service was.
And then, my college professor made an announcement that changed the course of my life….
At the end of my sociology class my professor made an announcement that one of his students, who was graduating, had been working with a family who has a child with autism and this family was now looking for someone to replace her.
He went on to say that anyone who was interested to should go check out the flier outside his office door.
So I did.
Then I called the family.
Then I took a train to the suburbs to meet this family.
I arrived at the house, knocked on the door and the mother answered.
And then, the ‘flash’ moment happened.
You know those moments where you get a flash, and you just KNOW that your life has been changed forever?
Has that ever happened to you?
It’s only happened to me a couple of times (the other was when I met my husband. I just knew we were meant to grow old together. We could have gotten married the very day we met. But I digress….)
So, I began working with this 4 year old boy named Jefferey and incredible things began to happen.
Let me paint a picture of what Jeffrey was like when I first met him…
When I first met Jeffrey, he;
- had very low eye contact
- would have inconsolable tantrums for hours on end
- spoke in scripted ways (repeating entire movies)
- ate a very limited diet (toast with the crust cut off and cheerios)
- had an incredibly erratic sleep schedule
- was still in diapers
- and he would absorb himself for hours in repetitive activities (like drawing the Grinch who stole Christmas) over and over and over again.
His mother Kris and I worked with total devotion and having had ZERO experience with kids with autism or any special needs, she taught me everything she knew.
And…the most incredible blossoming began to take place.
In the 1.5 years that I worked with Jeffrey, he calmed down and began to open up. He engaged with us in a variety of activities and began to abandon his repetitive activities. His communication became more interactive and social, his eye contact went up, his tantrums decreased to almost nothing, he became potty trained, his sleep became typical and he began to eat an incredibly varied diet.
Yes, these changes astounded me.
But what was even more moving to me was the very respectful, loving and honoring approach that we used to reach him.
And so I decided that I would then devote my life to serving families with children with autism.
With a heart full of gratitude I realized I had finally found my path. And I have been on this path ever since.
I spent 4 years getting certified as an autism specialist and then set to work helping families.
And now, as I write this, I am blown away at how my path has developed. I never dreamed I would;
- Be able to share my weekly videos with a subscribing community of close to 10,000 people from all over the world.
- Receive so many e-mails and Facebook messages from my private clients who have witnessed their special child grow in tremendous ways, like playing with their sibling for the first time or being able to express feelings.
- Witness my book “Play to Grow!” be sold in 4 languages and be voted as a top 5 resource by the Special Needs Book Review.
- And, I had several “pinch myself” moments as I interviewed some of the leading professionals in the autism field as part of my Autism Empowerment Telesummit panel; people like Temple Grandin, Jenny McCarthy, Donna Gates…..
So here’s what I am coming to…here is what I am feeling compelled to do…
In 20 years of being in the trenches with families, I have discovered what is missing: Knowledge.Support.Inspiration.
Yes, parents can access one of these 3 things in different ways and at different times (like the one week telesummit where people were so grateful for the knowledge and inspiration), but then the week is over and parents are back to an isolated life trying to sift through it all and figure out the next step, alone, day after day after day.
As I mentioned in my last blog…
What was very obviously missing was an ongoing community of like minded parents and professionals where all 3 aspects are being offered all the time:
Knowledge. Support. Inspiration.
And that is what is driving me today, to what I believe will revolutionize the way parents are being helped, and therefore the way that they can help their children.
An online community that serves this exact purpose:
Knowledge: Through monthly interviews with the top professionals in the field, videos from me and all the incredible wisdom and experience parents have to share with each other.
Support: An engaged and supportive forum to share ideas, methods, celebrations, prayers and challenges.
Inspiration: To hear from other parents and professionals of inspiring stories, developments and achievements.
In short; a home, a family, a community.
The comments and responses from my last couple of blogs have been incredible to witness. There has been a lot of interest in the online membership community that I am potentially going to create, and it seems, as one person wrote, that I “hit the nail on the head”.
So, here’s what I decided to do.
I have decided to offer you a gift. This gift is a way for me to thank you for your enthusiasm and responses.
I am thinking about making a FREE “Propel Your Child Forward” resource kit for you…
This kit will include:
-My “Communication Road Map”. This downloadable document breaks down the critical stages of communication development; helping you identify where you child is right now and what goal you should focus on next.
-Strategies for Challenging Behaviors: I will share my most comprehensive articles on helping your child move through challenging behaviors (kicking, biting, tantrums and more).
-A collection of ‘goodies’. Downloadable documents that help address some of the most challenging areas like picky eating and developing social skills.
Here is what I want you to do.
I am making a list of all the people interested in getting this free “Propel Your Child Forward” kit AND getting in on all of this (the building of an online community) at the start.
So, if you are interested, all you need to do is click the button below:
If I end up making this kit (if there is enough interest, I am thinking about 200 or so), I will send it to everyone on this special interest list.
So, if you want me to make a free “Propel Your Child Forward” resource kit, and want to be included on the developments of a new community I am thinking of spearheading, simply click the button below:
Dedicated, as always, to turning your child’s potential into a reality,