When I tell people what I do for a living I typically hear things like “Wow, you must be really patient,” or “Oh you must be a saint” or “I could never do that – isn’t it depressing?”
The truth is… I do have patience. More than the average person? I don’t know… maybe, I simply love kids and they respond to me – I “get” them and it’s super easy for me to form a connection with them! I’m not a saint and no, my job isn’t depressing at all! Far from it; it’s inspiring! The fact is – I LOVE my job!! It brings me great joy every single day! I get to work with the most amazing families who have nothing but love for their incredible kids and my work brings smiles, tears of joy, and laughter back into the lives of people that may not experience that often enough. Now, yes, it’s true – sometimes home visits can get a little heavy – that’s expected when someone goes through a challenge they aren’t expecting such as finding out your child isn’t as “perfect” as you’ve been hoping and dreaming them to be. Feelings of denial, fear, anger, confusion, frustration, anxiety, guilt, sadness, or isolation as well as a whole host of other normal responses and emotions may pop up from time to time when I’m working with a family – heck, I expect them to and sometimes these feelings stick around for a long time, but that’s also part of my job – helping parents to see that it is okay to have these feelings and to provide a safe place for them to talk openly about these feelings with someone who understands. You see, I’m a “family-focused” kind of gal. I strongly believe, and years of experience has shown me, that having a child with a disability or a developmental delay affects everyone in the family or extended “family” – (Mom, Dad, siblings, grandparents, aunties and uncles, cousins, day care workers, nannies, etc., etc.) and everyone responds differently to various situations and circumstances. There is a special set of needs that are unique to these families which most people don’t understand. I do! I’ve been working with this population for over 20 years. You can’t just work with the child, you really need to be ready to work with the whole family and it’s important to see the whole child, not just one aspect of them. Not everyone has this core philosophy, but I think those that don’t – those that are “medical model” so to speak – are missing out!! They are only addressing one aspect of the big picture. I like to provide guidance, answers AND support to those who need and want it – and every family is different so my job never gets boring and I am continually enriched by the children and families I meet! Since I’ve been doing this for awhile I’ve seen and heard a lot and no topic is off limits because I believe that everything a family is experiencing is relevant to helping their Little Hero succeed.
Here’s what I have come to realize; all parents want what’s best for their children and there are a lot of parents out there that are losing sleep at night worrying about their kiddo and whether or not they are developing on track. Life can be unfair to many parents and this world can be a painful and sometimes confusing place – but out of extreme pain comes amazing growth and joy! Many people are hurting and if I can help soothe this world one family at a time, one person at a time, to help them through their pain and onto a path of new growth and happiness, then I know I’ve done my part in making things a little bit better. I hope this doesn’t sound arrogant, but I believe I’ve been given a gift – a God-given talent if you will, and I simply have to use it to help others in need! I want people to understand that all children are special and that each child, regardless of their abilities, has something unique and wonderful to offer this world. And I know the parents that I work with agree with me – their kids are remarkable and have so much to offer!! Things might be challenging at first and very confusing, it might even feel like a roller-coaster ride with ups and downs and all arounds and many uncertainties, but eventually those “yucky feelings” can melt away and what replaces them are feelings of joy, hope, eternal love, gratitude, and parental pride.
And my work is inspiring. They, the families and children that I work with, THEY inspire ME – every single day!! I truly am blessed that they have welcomed me into their homes and their lives! I am a better person for it. 😀