Sunday, April 17, 2011

Autism Speaks: June 5, 2011

[As a precursor to this post, I have to mention that I received permission from T's mommy to blog about, and re-post, the "I Walk" poem in this. I have chosen to refer to my client as "T" to further protect his confidentiality.]

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

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!!!



CEO of Team T


Sunday, April 3, 2011

On Mommyhood (and letting go)

As a precursor to this post: NO I AM NOT PREGNANT - although I did recently become a momma to an 8-week old Portuguese Water Dog, Barnabas.

My mom came to visit me a few weekends ago. Although we didn't have Barnabas yet, we were able to go visit the puppies with her - it was so much fun! Per usual, we had a perfect weekend. My mom and I enjoyed some yummy dinner and drinks together on Friday night, followed by a Saturday morning run in the park, a visit to see 6 Portuguese Water Dog puppies and a relaxing evening watching movies with Jeff. My mom's visits are always short, but oh-so-sweet. Some of the things that I particularly miss about living near her are not monumental, but actually, small things like saturday morning jogs, watching trashy television, trips to Marshalls/TJ Maxx, delicious salads and Einsteins Bagels.

Momma and some of the puppies :)

Something my mom is a pro at is having a healthy "letting go" relationship with her kids. I'm confident that my mom misses me and hopes that we will soon move back to Michigan, but she has never made me feel guilty about moving away (despite my intense separation anxiety.) In fact, she consistently encourages me by telling me that she's proud of me for living on my own, away from her, in a big city. This "letting go" mentality is actually quite biblical. The Lord tells us that sometimes we will have to leave our families behind in order to follow Him. He also calls us to fully entrust Him with our family. If He calls me to live in the 'hood, a place that is not family-friendly, I am commanded to trust Him with my child's safety. This is a mentality I'm not yet capable of.

How do I know I'm not capable of fully entrusting my future children to the Lord? Sadly, my dog has taught me a lot. I can't even put him in his crate for 20 minutes without feeling "mommy guilt." In other words, I can't even trust God with my darn DOG, let alone a precious child. I know that I would not be able to have healthy boundaries with my children at this point in my life - I fear that I'm going to be an overbearing, over-protective mother that won't let her child take the bus to school, let alone go away for college or summer camp.

In addition, I've been questioning my mommy-patience. Because I work with children, and have worked with young children since I was in middle school, I assumed I would be great at fully loving a dog (or baby) despite midnight feedings and potty-breaks amidst barking (or crying.) lies. There have been times when I want to hit Barnabas because of his late-night barking. Does this mean I'm going to be a bad mom? Will it be different with children? I feel like a mommy failure.

motherhood: barnabas and i :)

In other words, I have a lot of control I need to let go of. When that happens, I'll let you know.

Much Love.