"Autism is not a disability, it is a different set of abilities from what society is used to. Abilities to see & do things in a unique and often innovative way."
The earlier we can begin implementation of support strategies, the more profound we can tailor the outcomes to be. However, each individual has beautiful gifts and abilities that sometimes take longer to unwrap, and they can have profound outcomes as well.
With the correct tools and a dose of resiliency, together we can make the most beautiful dreams come true.
As Sally Meyers once said,
"Autism is not the end of the world...just the beginning of a new one."
A LITTLE BACKGROUND...
From a very young age, I knew that I wanted to be a teacher. It wasn't until my teen years, however, that I realized I wanted to be a teacher for children with autism--my dream job! This dream became reality on the heels of my college graduation, and I loved every minute of it. . . until I felt the push to do more. Being able to teach was a gift that I was so thankful for, but there was a passion burning inside of me to make a bigger impact. To work directly with families and communities to change outcomes from a fundamental level. Making a greater impact on people's lives that I couldn't constitute within the education system alone.
This ensued my position with Autism Speaks, where the need for full-family support became even more apparent to me, and I knew that I needed to be a driver in that arena. The journey began as an Autism Social Skills and Recreation program director, as well as a job developer for teens and adults facing social, independent, and academic challenges.
These opportunities compounded the growing need for services not only for individuals with autism, but for each member of their family, school, and community at-large.
AREAS OF NEED
Throughout these professional experiences, I recognized several areas of need that lie within homes, schools, and communities.
Support for all family members; being heard & understanding autism
Healthy, positive, consistent home-school engagement & communication
Sibling support and connection activities
Administrator, teacher, and paraprofessional coaching
Peer training and involvement
Community education and inclusion
Support within the healthcare system
Employment opportunities & workforce enhancement
Education – Employment connection
It was my new dream to find a way to fulfill these needs.
Following other integral opportunities in the autism community, I knew it was time to rebrand, and launch Autism Forward, Inc. I am grateful for the experiences that have brought me to a place where I can walk this journey of autism; educating, advocating, and coaching.
We do not just need autism awareness, we need the ability to see the beauty of different, to embrace it, and to foster it.
Together, we can move autism forward.