Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Autism Awareness #4 - Jobs in the field of Autism

Today I was featured over at Half Past Kissin' Time as a contribution to raise Autism Awareness. I really appreciate all of the people who came by to take a look and I hope we were able to provide you with some new understanding, or maybe we were able to change your misconceptions.

I have often said that I am always surprised when I find out that people are reading what I'm writing. Oftentimes, I type, hit send and just assume that maybe a few family members of friends might check in to see how the boys are doing. Every now and then I get messages from people telling us that our words have made an impact on their thinking. I am always touched by the kind words, but am also embarrassed that anyone thinks we are any different, or any better than anyone else. Honestly-we are just parents trying to figure it out as we go and the only thing that may make me stand out is that I have a big mouth, or a writer's itch.. to spread the word and air out our some of our private moments, thoughts and fears.

No matter how much we try to put a positive spin on autism, the truth is that it still sucks. It does. It sucks that my boys have a voice that can't yet be heard. That people can't always see the beauty that lies within, see their intelligence and sense of humour. I won't go on and on. What does make it somewhat better, is knowing that they have touched so many people. I have cousins who have chosen psychology and child and youth services as their studies of choice in college and university, with the hopes of someday working in the field with other children with autism. Three of our 'adopted' family members who started out as young girls providing us with respite support when we were back in Ontario.. have now all gone on to pursue studies and careers in the field as well. Bronwyn is even tattooed by a Willow Tree in honour of "her boys". The thought that my boys and our family has had such a tremendous impact on all of these young women really makes me proud. Proud that Will, Owen and Jake have given back.

Proof again that the world has much to learn and benefit from having them in their lives.. Proof that people with autism have so much to offer. Proof that these valuable members of society should not be shut away or 'kept with their own'.

I'll get off my soapbox now. I thought I would try and list all of the professionals that have come into contact with my boys since our journey began. Perhaps it will provide someone with ideas if they were contemplating working with kids with autism.

- Behavioural Aide in various areas of therapy: floortime, VBA (Verbal Behaviour Approach), ABA (Applied Behaviour Analysis), IBI (Intensive Behavioural Intervention), Pivotal Response Therapy, TEACCH, Sensory Integration, etc.

** For parents researching different forms of therapy for their children, I would recommend reading "The Complete Guide to Autism Treatments. A Parent's Handbook: make sure your child gets what works!" by S.K. Freeman or contact your local Autism Association for a list of care providers that may be available to you.

- Play Therapist - refer to: this information

- Music Therapist - refer to: this information

- Occupational Therapist - refer to: this information

- Physical Therapist - refer to: this information

- Speech Pathologist or Communication Disorder Assistant - refer to: this information

- Clinical Child Psychologist, Developmental Pediatrician, Educational Psychologist

- Educational Assistant, Teacher's Assistant, Special Education Teacher, ECE Worker (Early Childhood Education)

- Social Worker, Child Youth Worker

- Cranio-Sacral Therapist, Naturopath, Naturopathic Physician

- Developmental Optometrist - refer to: this information

I'm sure that you could take any profession and cater to working with people with autism. There is definitely a need for different service providers to specialize in working in this field (ie. financial planning, coaching sports, teaching the arts, hairdressers, animal therapy, etc.). I sometimes worry when I hear young people saying that they want to "work with kids with autism" and they limit themselves to assuming that can only mean working as a 1:1 aide in behaviour therapy. Many of our previous aides have come into the job and used it as a stepping stone to a specialization, not realizing that those jobs were out there until they worked with our kids. This is so difficult for our kids and for our agencies after all the training that they have put into their staff. Perhaps a little more research into all the above-mentioned avenues of study/work and they can get a jump start on the education required to get those jobs.

Hope this helps someone and thanks again to Half Past Kissin' Time!


Mrs4444 said...

No problem! Your list looks very complete to me :) BTW, the inspiration continues...today, I drafted an email to send to all parents of kids with autism, asking them to send me anything they wish teachers knew or were exposed to so that I can forward it to our entire school district. I'm excited to see what I get back :)

Dana said...

You inspire us each and every day from miles away, but we are closing in.....We will be there this time tomorrow and can't wait to see the progress!!! We are so proud to be part of your extended family!!! See you tomorrow!!! Love, Dana & Emily!!!

Jennifer said...

Your are such a great advocate for your children AND for Autism Awareness. We're still fairly new to the journey but, I agree-IT SUCKS and will probably always suck that J Man has special abilities! (I don't like the word disabled!) We still have to remind ourselves he doesn't respond to verbal queues, facial expressions and other inferences as other children do (which can be difficult to remember when you discover he's been watching TV or gaming instead of cleaning his room for the past two hours!) I certainly look for him to use his special abilities in an extraordinary way when he's grown. We've just got a long road to get there! You are an inspiration and a comfort to those of us new to the journey with LOTS to learn!

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