Our life in five words:hectic, challenging, unplanned, messy, tiring
Four qualities I look for in a therapist:
I usually find therapists by word of mouth. I want them to be experienced with Moe's specific issues, not just autism. A good therapist knows the latest research, can be flexible and creative working with my extremely self-directed child, and knows when to push and when to back off. It is tough working with challenging kids all day, so a good therapist should love their job!
Three resources I can't live without:
- Bed tent - To keep Moe from running around the house at 2:00am.
- Huggle Pod Swing - This is Moe's favorite way to calm and relax.
- Zip-up the back jammies - Moe infamously loves to remove his clothing and pull-ups in bed!
Two words (or more!) of advice for therapists working with children with autism:
Don't let my kid walk all over you. He is a master of getting his way, but consistency is how he learns. If I only see you once or twice a week, therapy is as much for me as for Moe. Help me learn to implement the techniques at home. Most of the therapists I've encountered have been great at this.
A word of advice for the parents of a child newly diagnosed with autism:
It doesn't pay to have regrets or search for a crystal ball. Do the best you can right now. Work your social network, especially ones that can help you find local resources. Other parents will tell you the truth about where and how to get the best services. Regional centers, school districts and insurance companies can help, but ultimately they are funding sources. Here in the Bay Area, there is a fantastic yahoo group called Peninsula Parents of Special Needs Kids. Finally, there are a lot of people who want to sell you something. Trust science and evidence based research. Anyone offering a miracle cure is just selling you something.
One dream for my child:
For Moe to find his voice. This could be through speech, but it could be through other forms of communication as well, even art. I want him to be able to express himself so he find his place in the world.
And finally, what I do to rest and recharge:
My book club! I escape by reading books that are not about autism, and my book club girls are my best friends. We meet once a month, have dinner, a glass of wine (or two), and talk about anything and everything.
Thank you so much for sharing, Jennie! Your resources and words of advice are fantastic. I'm sure many parents (and therapists!) will find them useful. To follow Moe's journey and to find out about more of Jennie's favorite resources, please visit her at www.wantapeanut.com or www.facebook.com/wantapeanut.