World Autism Awareness Day

Today is World Autism Awareness Day. Autism, it’s cause and awareness are something that are held very close and dear to my heart. I have worked with children who have autism now for 9 years and the incidence of autism continues to rise. Recently it is said to affect 1 in every 50 children.

How I got into this field was a complete fluke but a fluke that has changed the course of my life forever and I am so grateful.

While in University I accepted a job at an overnight camp in Pennsylvania. I was placed to work with the oldest campers which was way more secluded program than I had thought. My sister, cousin and friends were working with the younger kids in another area and I never got a chance to see and hang out with them. It made for a really sucky beginning of the summer. I ended up having a talk with the camp director who offered to move me to be a staff member within an inclusive cabin for children with disabilities. I had never worked 1:1 before or with children with disabilities but thought it sounded like a great challenge!

I ended up being placed in a cabin with girls who had developmental disabilities (mainly autism) and had the summer of my life. The campers were bright, bubbly, fun, energetic and so full of life! The inclusiveness of the program was amazing and the campers really found a very special part of my heart. I worked with these campers for the next 2 summers.

After completing University I didn’t really know what I would be doing with my life. I considered real estate, teaching, social work, and theatre production. I had the camp experience of working with kids/teens with autism but didn’t have any therapeutic experience. Then in 2004, the Ontario government increased funding to open more regional programs and I applied hoping that I would get the job. I did! For 8 amazing years I worked in regional autism programs providing 1:1 ABA therapy to children as well as running social skills groups, running workshops, parents training sessions and consulting to families. Currently, I’m a special education teacher at an amazing school where some of my students fall on the autism spectrum.

I have been called an angel, told that I must have mounds of patience and so on. But the truth is, I love what I do. I love watching these kids make gains in their lives. I love teaching a child who is constantly running around to come and sit in a chair and learn. It’s the most amazing feeling. Or when you teach a child a body part or to follow a simple instruction as clapping. Teach them their name and other identifying information such as their parents names or phone number. In turn they have taught me to appreciate the little things, and that every gain is a gain no matter how big or small. They have taught me how to break down skills into small sometimes minute steps in order for them to be successful. As a parent, it makes me appreciate everything I have in my life and find a calmness in dealing with Princess Peach. I have been puked on, spat at, hit, bit, scratched, been covered in pee and had poo all over my hands but I wouldn’t change it for the world. Each of those experiences have shaped who I am today and have made me a better teacher, and parent.

For everyone else out there, when you see a child screaming don’t judge the book by the cover. The parent is probably amazing doing the best that they can do at that given moment. Smile at them, instead of stare. Be compassionate instead of judging them. Be understanding instead of rude. Try to put yourself in their shoes for just one moment so you can try to understand what they go through on a daily basis. So I ask you for today, and for the month of April spread the word about autism. Teach someone you know about it and enlightened their lives. Educate them on autism, the signs, and what they can do to help.

So for all the Elizabeth’s, Chris’, Michael’s, Joseph’s and Tenny’s out there. Thank you for teaching ME all I need to know. Without each and every one of you, I would not be where I am today. You will forever hold a special place in my heart.


  1. Susannah says:

    What a great post. I love your advice to other parents seeing a family struggle with a child screaming or acting out. We are often too quick to judge and not quick enough to show compassion. A good reminder.

    • mscmommylife says:

      Many of the parents I have worked with have encountered harsh judgements by others because they don’t understand Autism. Those parents think that child is unruly or a brat but instead often cannot control how they act. Parents are come to me crying because others have made comments to them. It’s so important as parents we band together and support one another!

  2. Cheryl says:

    Thank you for sharing your story. It’s always amazing to hear from teachers who are so passionate about what they do.

    What a great reminder for us as parents to refrain from passing judgement and show compassion instead.

  3. Such a great post. Back in my camp counsellor days I had a charge with Autism. Some days were more difficult than others, but it was the best feeling when his family told me they were so appreciative of my time so that he could experience camp.

    Keep up your great work, we are so lucky to have teachers like you!

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