About Us

 

Mom, retired teacher, and special educator

I’m always hunting for the “work around” for my kiddo with Autism.

About Me…

I guess what sums me up best, is that I am a lifelong learner.  I’ve changed my vocation many times in life and in my late thirties I became a teacher.  The funny part about that, though, is when I was almost finished with college, I had a long conversation with my Intro to Exceptionalities professor.  She caused me to do some in depth reflection and the outcome of those thoughts resulted in a Special Education endorsement.

The interesting part of that decision is that you never know what’s in store for you.  Little did I know, that about five years later, I would give birth to my son who has Autism.  The endorsement, in my mind, was just one more tool in my toy box to help kids.  I thank God every day for the nudge toward Special Education, it has helped our family cope in so many ways.

Little did I know about the voyage that was in store for us as a family.  It wasn’t until he was nine that we got the Autism diagnosis.  In hindsight, the signs were there, but our Kiddo’s development appeared (on the outside) to be so normal.

I would say that we knew something was up by the time he was two.  I chalked the first year (which was hard) up to the fact that I was an older new mother and was inexperienced.  As a newborn, my child hated his crib…as in HATED it.  He never would adapt to it.  The need for sleep drove me to a decision I’m not proud of.  I was teaching and mothering full time at this crossroads.  Our son would not sleep in his crib…to the point of crying all night even when swaddled.  So, driven by near exhaustion, our son slept in bed with us.  It was the only way to calm and soothe him to get him to sleep.  Consequently, we rested as well.

Tantrums, outbursts, and silence were all symptoms early on.  Our son was a sensation seeker. Around age 2, it was quite by accident, we discovered that we could short circuit his tantrums by body pressing him on the bed.  One time, he had a particularly nasty fit and I was seriously afraid he would hurt himself. In the throes of his fit, I picked him up and took him to his bedroom. Once there, I laid him down on the bed and just sort of gently snuggled on top of him carefully. It was as if someone had flipped a switch! Less than a minute later his body calmed down, reorganized, and reset.  I was flabbergasted. We had been searching for something that worked.

Later, this discovery resulted in a conversation with his pediatrician. This led to Child Find, which got him evaluated and placed in developmental preschool. This opened the door to placement in occupational therapy to help him regulate his body.  It was a blessing.  It was in this preschool, that we discovered he couldn’t see. Imagine my shame, my child couldn’t see! I was a teacher and didn’t even figure it out. But, once we got him to someone that could work with him to sort out his eyes, he got his first pair of glasses. 

The day we picked them up, he put them on and looked outside,. “What’s that?” Kiddo said.  “Oh honey,” Nancy (our optician) said. “Not that you’ve ever seen one before… But that’s a tree.” I was mortified. For the next two weeks, all our son did was stare at everything including the ceiling!  He hasn’t taken his glasses off ever since.

Those were the early days.  I was teaching middle school full-time until Kiddo entered 3rd grade.  After that, I was an Instructional Coach; in other words, I taught teachers to improve instruction.  A lot was going on at that time.  During this period, my Dad died.  He lived all the way up in Alaska at least 300 miles any direction to the nearest suburban community.  I was his executor and proceeded to work full-time, care for my child, and deal with Dad’s affairs.

I think the best advice anyone could give someone in my circumstances, would be to take care of yourself.  It was advice I never got. After my fourth year of coaching, I was scheduled to step back into the classroom.  It was about five weeks into the school year when things spontaneously blew up in my face.  My chronic health issues went on overdrive and my doctor put me out on a 12-week FMLA.  I was at a loss.  I could hardly believe what was happening to me.  I was in denial.

Long story, short: I ended up taking early retirement for medical reasons.  I wasn’t happy about it.  My doctor at the time told me that I was the only person that she had ever told to quit their job.  Quite literally it was killing me.  When they say stress kills…they mean it.  I worked primarily in poverty impacted schools.  The toll that takes on teachers is huge.  Teachers that teach in these neighborhoods experience what is called compassion fatigue.  It is very real.  By the time June comes, you have given so much of yourself to your students…it takes literally all summer just to even start to feel like yourself.  That coupled with all my other demands, literally put me under.   All I did was get up at 4:00AM, arrive to work by 6:45AM, eat a 30 minute lunch, rush to meetings after school, work late, get home by 7:00PM, eat dinner, put our Kiddo to bed, and then I’d crash around 11:00PM only to repeat again the next day.  It wasn’t much of a life.

Since then it’s taken me several years to begin to feel like myself.  Since I’ve been retired, I’ve been a better mother, wife, sister, and daughter.  I had lost myself in everything else. Take. Time. For. Yourself!!  I was at serious risk for major health complications.  You aren’t much good to anyone unless you are well rested and healthy.

At this point in time, I finally feel healthy enough to start to think about doing something again.  However, the pandemic has sort of put the kibosh in several things I considered doing.  Along about August when it was clear our son would be starting school remotely, it dawned on me.  People could learn from me and our family while I continue my path forward.  I decided to start a blog/vlog about our experiences and share what’s worked for us.  I’m grateful I’m a certified secondary teacher.  My child has his own personal teacher.  (Not that he’s always happy about it! )  If my family finds value in it, I thought maybe others will too.  All this has led me here to start this website and blog/vlog.


Toddler

 


Elementary

 


Middle School