Am I normal? Am I typical? The 3 “A’s, is a free gift”
Written By: Evette Y., LCSW, Clinical Director, A is for Apple, Inc.
Growing up, I thought I was “normal!” I felt I functioned like my peers. However, I learned early on that, I functioned much differently from others. My ears don’t work well. My mom did a wonderful job communicating the truth about my ears and, processed how to accept me, as I am. I am a Mexican American/Native Indian; a woman, the only child; and have a profound hearing loss. I attended a high school where I was most definitely a minority on several levels.
However, I DID NOT, allow my barriers and differences define me. I most certainly didn’t allow my lack of hearing to slow down me down (quite the opposite). In fact, over time, I have learned to embrace and move forward leaning on my strengths. Having a defined, consisted support system, is the foundation of future success for you and your child with autism. Life has never been easy for me from the moment I was born. My status at birth was unresponsive, and had to be revived but survived. I learned to fight for my needs and wants from day one. I can’t take all the credit. My parents were not only on my side, but in my corner when I needed them. As a child with special needs, I can’t emphasize enough here that family/parental support for child(ren), is the crucial factor for future progress towards success and surviving in this typical world. I can recall my first conversation with my mom when I realized that I was different from my peers, after being bullied and made fun of because of my noticeable bi-lateral hearing aids and speech impairment. That was the first but, not the last tears shred due to not being a “typical person”. On the bright side, experiencing these weekly if not daily barriers, challenges, feelings of worthlessness and feeling defeated, has molded me to become a strong advocate for myself and others who didn’t have the foundation of support by their loved ones and/or academic environment.
Parenting is NOT easy, (I obviously do not have to tell you that!). We all want to be loved and cared for. Gaining knowledge and understanding what is Autism, what is ABA are one of many components to living a functional life. Having access to emotional, physical and social support are crucial. An example of emotional support is, having, “that person.” That person you can trust and vent with. Physical support is being able to make time for yourself to get exercise, relax, and/or making time for yourself (doing laundry for the family does not count!) Last but not least, social support. A is for Apple is and should be your effective and accessible social support system. Rely on your ABA Team. I am a firm believer that if you, your child’s and/or your family’s needs are not being met by your ABA team, then I am advising you now, to speak up, and express to your Clinical Director on the team, how you can be a happy camper. Don’t wait, customer satisfaction can only occur when speak up so problem solving has a chance to befall.
I will close with a tip for a human being to learn and practice, the 3 A’s: Acknowledgement, Affection and Appreciation. Everyone should deliver and receive at least one of the “A’s” daily. Acknowledgement: “Jane Doe, I want to acknowledge your patience, while I am learning everything about my child.” Affection: “High 5! That was an awesome idea.” Appreciation: “I appreciate you making me laugh.”