Do you work outside the home? If so, what do you do?
My most important job is that of a stay-at-home parent. I am the parent representative and chairperson for special needs of the Westlake City Schools PTA. My husband and I lead a special needs family support group through Journey Community Church as well. I also am an independent ambassador with Plexus Worldwide.
What do you do to relax?
I don't know what that means. I have never been good at that! I like doing impossible jigsaw puzzles. I also enjoy writing and my book about my son was just published worldwide, "Looking back and Laughing: Our Journey through Autism"
What else would you like to tell us about yourself?
I have always loved helping people and feel like I have finally found my purpose through my son’s autism. It opened up our eyes and hearts to families that we never would have even known before. I live my life with purpose and try to help whomever I can every single day.
What benefits has Connecting for Kids brought to you and your family?
My son has loved the special programs offered, especially Music Therapy & MoreSM. Sarah Rintamaki has always been there for me with encouraging and helpful advice. I enjoy getting to see new faces and sharing my knowledge, resources, and support to anyone that may need it!
Which have been your favorite Connecting for Kids resources?
I enjoy the educational classes and training, I will never stop learning and always pass on the information and suggest other parents educate themselves as well.
The bad habit I picked up...
Because my son is considered non-verbal, we needed to learn how to prompt him for almost everything. It was hard to not say things for him, but to prompt him to talk. It took so long to learn how to prompt but we finally did. Our struggle now is learning how NOT to prompt as I feel it holds him back sometimes from communicating independently. I feel like I prompt everyone when I talk now.
If I could go back in time and talk to myself the day we got the diagnosis I would say...
This is not the end, just a brand new bright beginning. You will be challenged, tested, exhausted, confused, stressed, lonely, and overwhelmed at times. But, it will all be worth it. You will learn new things, find a new way to love, a new way to parent and your heart will grow ten times what you thought was possible. Don't give up. Learn as much as you can. Do whatever it takes. Remember that you are your child's voice and their biggest support. Love hard, laugh often, and look ahead to an amazing future full of endless possibilities. Have faith, stand strong, and give him what every child needs, love.
My greatest lesson learned was…
To throw out the window what I thought being a parent looked like. With three children all needing different things from me, what came natural and easy wasn't necessarily what is best for them. Birthday parties look different for my son. Family vacations aren't what I see on the TV. Playdates, having date nights, being spontaneous, all these things are unrealistic. I learned to expect the unexpected, and go with the flow. Life is what you make it, not always what you hope for. Make yours special in what feels right and don't look at other people's lives and feel like yours isn't just as amazing and wonderful. Different, not less.
We'd love to know if you have any go-to resources such as blogs, websites, or books that we can share with other parents.
"Looking back and Laughing: Our Journey through Autism" is a book I wrote which looks at life through the eyes of a parent with a child on the autism spectrum. It is available on Amazon. You can find me on Facebook at "Autism Mom on a Mission"
Is there anything else about your journey that you would like to share with other parents?
I have extensive research and knowledge of the connection between the gut and the brain and digestive health concerning our autistic and ADHD kiddos. My children are all on medications and plant-based supplements that have truly changed our lives forever. I am speaking with hospitals locally right now and plan on offering workshops about gut health and special needs. Anyone can contact me at any time and I would be happy to add them to my group of families all working to achieve similar results, or share my research and results.
Stephanie is the mother of three children.
Faces of Connecting for Kids (CFK) is a monthly feature that appears in our subscribers-only eNewsletter. The parents profiled in Faces of CFK have provided their information to help others walking a similar path to know that they are not alone. If you are interested in providing your own profile for a Faces of CFK feature, please complete this form.