How did I get here?

Welcome! We’re all new here, so why don’t I start off by sharing a bit about who I am.

I am a wife to a hard working devoted husband and a mother of four unique, beautiful children.

I am a student at Okanagan College, soon to graduate as a CEA.

And I am a woman filled to bursting with a passion for helping families of kids on the spectrum find strategies for school and home that will support their child in reaching their full potential.

You see, for the first seven years of my life as a mother, I was unaware of what it meant to be on the Autism spectrum. I, like so many others, saw Autism as a disorder that involved little to no verbal skills, a lot of disruptive behaviour and a low IQ. Certainly these can be traits of Autism but what was missing from my knowledge is that Autism is a spectrum that involves many different components and looks very different in each and every person that it is a part of.

I suppose it is for this reason that it was a surprise to me when my second-born son was diagnosed with ASD in 2011. To me, he was my quirky, smart, funny boy. To the team at IHCAN who spent many hours assessing him, he had Autism.

I see it now, the way he speaks in his monotone voice, misses jokes, the way he perseverates on things. It was hard to accept the diagnosis but it was a critical point in our lives because it opened our naïve eyes to realize that he wasn’t the only child of ours that had these traits. By 2013, three of our four children had been diagnosed with ASD.

Parents often struggle with their child receiving a label, and like many others; I wrestled with the thought that I had somehow caused this to happen to them, which of course isn’t true. I see my sons’ label of ASD not as an excuse for their unexpected behaviours but as an explanation of why they do the things they do, and there is a big difference. ‘Excuse’ is a word that has this feeling of finality to it; it’s the way it is and that’s that, whereas an explanation is a starting point with so much potential behind it. I cling tightly to the fact that my child isn’t misbehaving simply because he has Autism and he will never change, but that he is missing a particular skill, such as matching his reactions to the size of the problem that needs to be explicitly taught, and when he has mastered it, he will be able to function so much better. I think of myself as a detective rather than a punisher. The diagnosis of Autism helped me to change the direction of my parenting from ‘why did you do that?’ to ‘how can I support you and teach you in a way that makes sense to you?’

This journey that we are on is filled with many bumps along the way. I am so thrilled to be a part of this new website where we can form a community of people who understand each other and can support each other; and to celebrate the victories big and small!

Navigating through paperwork, locating professionals & resources and knowing about upcoming events have not been easy in the past which is why this website is so important. Now you can do all of these things in one place while meeting other families with tips and experiences to share as well.

My goal with writing this blog is to discuss topics that give fresh ideas and perspective to families. I bring to the table life experience, education in school practices, and knowledge that I’ve gained through a love of reading. I hope you’ll take a moment to pop in and read my posts and share your thoughts too!

– Jen

One thought on “How did I get here?

  1. Sue -

    Wow! Thanks for all your hard working putting together this invaluable resource for everyone in the Okanagan who has been touched by autism. Now that I know about you, I will check your site regularly for information about upcoming community events, and to connect with others within the community. Great work!

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