Ask the parents of a child with disabilities who among the child’s caregivers knows their child best, and they will tell you without hesitation, “We Do.”
I believe parents are true experts. They know things naturally that no other caregiver, teacher or doctor can possibly know.
I learned this lesson early on in my career as a teacher: For me to be successful in the classroom, I needed to have critical, relevant information that only a parent knows. I discovered that if I asked the right questions, parents could assist me on how to best teach their child.
As a result of this insight, I realized the importance of communication and collaboration when it comes to educating a child with special needs.
In my work with families, I saw each child’s unique gifts. I helped parents reframe their current stories about their child’s limitations so that they can see potential, progress and possibility. I helped them create clear plans that lead to solutions instead of confusion, overwhelm and frustration.
I started my career as a classroom teacher, where I worked closely with students with autism spectrum disorders and significant disabilities. My background in behavior analysis shaped the part of me that says, “We must go where the data lead.” This analytical side aids the planning process, while honoring children where they are on their educational path.
I loved my time as a classroom teacher, but couldn’t ignore the tug I felt to serve in a larger capacity. When I was offered an opportunity to work in a clinical setting at a hospital, I enthusiastically accepted it. I learned from doctors, nurses and therapists, and was able to serve nearly 10-times the number of families.
From there, my next step was a seamless transition to a university’s community outreach program. I was able to touch 1,000s of lives. I, too, was touched by the many families I had long, close relationships with. I took those experiences with me to each new family I met.
My diverse background enabled me to blend my experience, my inquisitive nature and my creativity to offer parents new perspectives and options for their children’s futures.
My role was to teach parents the skills they need to be more organized, to create action plans, and to build habits and systems that ensure they make decisions from a place of calm assurance and confidence. When parents reached this place, they found their communication with teachers and providers was more effective and empowered.
Ultimately, I helped parents see beyond the presumed limitations they believe hold their child back. Together, we created new mindsets that led to positive outcomes.
A bright future is the birthright of every child. You already have the wisdom, you simply need a plan and the tools to get your there.
I believe in you and your child.