This Blog is part of the ‘Care Team’ series. Did you read our latest blog?
An Occupational Therapist shares her thoughts on Autism
A blank slate with unlimited possibilities. That’s the happy, warm feeling I get deep down inside my soul every time I have a new referral for a child on the spectrum. I see the misunderstood, the under-represented, the amazing human chomping at the bit to be seen by others, and those struggling to find a place in a world that isn’t always the most understanding. Children on the autism spectrum are my very favorite. They present in all shapes and sizes. All ability levels. Some with amazing vocabulary; some with no outward words at all. Some with behaviors; some with sensory challenges. Some with beautiful singing voices; some with poetic voices that sing through their keyboards. All with something amazing to teach those around them, if you’re just willing to listen.
Each child I work with teaches me a new way to understand and communicate in various ways to my next.
I have spent the last 12 years of my professional career learning from my clients. They all have a voice and are itching to actively exist in their own families, and their world. My clients teach me more than grad school or books ever could. They teach me to understand myself and others in technicolor instead of the black and white that previously existed. Each child I work with teaches me a new way to understand and communicate in various ways to my next. Families teach strength and perseverance through challenging times and love unbounded. Mothers, fathers, sisters, and brothers with more sheer fortitude than you could ever expect to see in a lifetime. They have weathered the assessments, the evaluations, the sleepless nights, the celebrated achievements, the tearful challenges. All while loving each other unconditionally and proving just what can be accomplished with hard work.
Being an occupational therapist is a gift. When I was in school we were led to believe that we would be the guiding light that would bring our clients and families out of the challenges and into the places they were meant to be. No one truly prepared me for how life-changing problem solving, observation, and coaching could truly be. That’s right, I said coaching. I’m not here to fix problems or broken things. Because folks on the spectrum are most certainly not broken.
I’m here to coach clients and families to be the best versions of themselves and to provide them with the best toolbox I can so my people can live their best life. My life has forever become better by the families and clients I’ve met over the years. And my vision will continually change with each new person I meet. That’s what it means to be a therapist coaching those on the spectrum. Continually changing, learning, and adapting.