Jeff and I are excited to participate in the Autism Speaks walk in New York City on June 5, 2011 with one of my client's (T) and his family. We are walking because children and individuals like T, who have Autism, have made a profound impact on our lives here in Brooklyn and our heart for individuals with special needs.
On a personal level, there have been many days when I don't feel like rolling out of bed at 630am for work (we all have these days, don't we?) Having 100% energy for 8 hours a day can be exhausting, but-oh-so-fulfilling. As one of my first clients out of graduate school, thinking about T and the big hug I get from him upon entering his home has frequently served as my motivation to do my job, and do it well. What a blessing it is to serve children and families, enabling them to communicate, for a full-time job! No cubicle, office politics or computer screens for me!
T's family has also blessed me. His mommy is an advocate for her son, never settling for services (or service providers) who are just average. She fights for her son, and all other individuals who have Autism. She is an encouragement to me. His grandmother, grandfather and uncle attend team meetings and actually carry out strategies, goals and objectives in their daily routine and interactions with T.
Admittedly, after graduating from school I really wanted to be a Speech Pathologist in a hospital setting. Maybe it was a selfish desire - a desire to be a part of "healing the sick." I have wrestled with God a lot on this issue - isn't being a speech pathologist in a hospital more prestigious than a speech pathologist who works with 0-3 year olds? God has transformed my heart, and I am proud and honored to not "heal the sick", but "enable the able".
So, I will leave you with "I Walk" - T's mommy wrote this and it touched our hearts. I will also leave you with a link to our team's donation page... If anyone who has Autism has touched your heart, please feel free to donate... Money collected will help fund research and provide support for families of Individuals with Autism.
I walk because you are my boo-boo. My first child. The 2nd grandchild.
I walk because you are mine.
I walk because I am a scientist. I'm aware of the significant findings that are produced in research.
I walk because I am your mother.
I walk because everyday you make me proud. You face your fears and don't even know it. You encounter sounds, sights and textures that make your body uncomfortable, yet you continue on.
I walk because you are brave.
I walk because people still look at us when we are out in public. They do not understand the narrating, the hand flapping, the escaping, and the lack of eye contact.
I walk because you are strong.
I walk because you are a gift. You have made me a better mother, a better person. You look at things from another perspective and give me insight and never cease to amaze me.
I walk because you are smart.
I walk because I do not know what typical is. Your stimming, your honesty, your perfectionism is now a part of me. I must think ahead and always think "what if". I have become a planner, a researcher, an emergency dispatcher, an advocate, an educator.
I walk because this is my life.
I walk because Autism has affected ALL OF US.
I walk because you are my hero and I love you!!!