Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Making Dreams Come True

Yup....we're less than a week away from Rachel starting her Dance Lessons at The Studio of Dance. We are all so excited. I'm excited FOR her. And I'm patting myself on the back asking our neighbor seeking a recommendation for a dance class for her which is where this started. We don't know, like everything else, how this is going to go. But based on her apparent interest, I think she is going to LOVE this. I think that she's going to be entranced with the mirror and the barre. I think she's going to love making noises with her feet wearing the taps on her shoes. I think she's going to give this teacher a run for her money. But I also think she'll learn quite a bit.

Score one victory for Mommy!!!!!

I'm calling this my first success in my role as a Parent Advocate. Yup. I spoke with our local office of the Autism Society (MCASA) and asked if they had a problem with me calling myself a "Parent Advocate" since I really have no academic training -- just on the job experience with regards to my own children. They asked what I had been doing in that role and I described my Facebook page and this blog. I also told this individual about my responses on other Facebook pages, Circle of Moms and other websites. I also told him that if anyone asked me a question, no matter where, I would do my best to help them find an answer or give them an uplifting word. If I didn't have that, I listen and try to help provide a different perspective so that the person I was speaking to could perhaps think of things from that point of view. I don't know how many people that has helped, but I do try.

And he told me that, as long as I made it VERY clear if someone was to ask for my "professional advice" that I have ZERO legal training (which is implied with the term "Advocate"), I could call myself a "Parent Advocate". I do know where to look for information, but I cannot claim to have this knowledge. I am a parent of two autistic individuals. I advocate for them. I learn what I can to be sure to give them the highest likelihood of success in school and beyond. And I do my best. He told me that he would put my name and contact information on the list of parents who are willing to talk to those who just learn of an autism diagnosis reaching out for help and advice. That, alone, is something I consider an honor. He also told me about ways I can get more involved in their organization, things I plan for myself for the next several years. Unfortunately, right now that's not an option because all of the meetings are very inconvenient for our schedules, but they are not likely to change and our schedules will likely change as my children grow and change. By the time they are all school age, I may find myself more available for a more involved position within MCASA.

This summer, Kevin heard me talking to a stranger in a park near my in-laws' house who was coping with a recent autism diagnosis in her son. I was referring this person to a couple of Facebook pages (including my own) to give them a place to go to ask questions or get information. I also mentioned this blog. I don't know if this person ever took me up on my suggestions, but I made it available. He suggested that if I had business cards, it would make the transfer of this information so much easier. So, when we returned visiting family this summer, I went to VistaPrint to learn about creating business cards. I started playing around with the templates that were available for free to cheap cards. And I found a design that I really liked. It has 3 owls (like my 3 kiddos) sitting on a branch. And I added the text but decided I needed a title. That's when I contacted MCASA and got their permission to use this title.

These business cards are due to arrive in the mail today. I am very excited to see them on paper -- I've been seeing the computer image for a few weeks now. So, the career that I began to consider for myself nearly a year ago is starting to come true. I don't know how lucrative it will be, but that's not really the point. It's about helping people get through these first few years (this will expand as I learn more, I'm sure). It's about pushing for changes and education in the general population. It's about making a better world for my children and others who share their diagnosis and their family of diagnosis. It's about making my mark on the world for my children.

I'm feeling pretty good about myself right about now.

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