I have questioned my existence since I was a small girl. I was very much in a different place than most of my peers. I always knew there was a reason for everyone to be here, but never was quite sure of my place.
I was the middle child of a middle-class family. I have an older sister (we are estranged right now)...we won't always be, but she hurt me emotionally very much when I needed her the most) and a younger brother (whom is 9 years younger, so we are in very different places emotionally). My brother is a good person, just doing his own thing.
My father worked alot and then my mother, so we were responsible for alot of things, like keeping the house clean and making sure my brother ate lunch and dinner. We raised show cattle, so I spent alot of time with my heifers and my steers.
My mother was a former beauty queen and my father was a former football star. My sister is gorgeous with blonde hair and blue eyes and my brother is also blonde with blue eyes. Here I was dark brown hair and dark brown eyes....what happened there?
I was not happy with my looks growing up....I wanted to be fair haired badly.
I was thin, but not skinny. I started gaining weight during puberty and was made fun of for being chubby. About the age of 14, I started dieting. By 15, I was completely into anorexia. I was down to 72 pounds and on the verge of dying. My poor parent's did not know what to do..anorexia was not well-known at the time.
I was sent to a hospital and there I began therapies with a wonderful psychiatrists named Dr. Matthews. He was thoughtful and kind....he listened to me when others found it hard to listen.
He made me understand that the anorexia is not about the food, it is about the control of the food.
I became better and was sent home.....but, I still had conflicts about my existence. Why was I put on this Earth?
I went off to college at 17 years of age. I met new and exciting people. I was away from the small school I went to...Pflugerville, with my class of around 80 students...and into a much larger college..SWTSU...
I met lifelong friends there and majored in Agriculture Education...which, by the way, I have never used my degree for anything pertaining to Agriculture.
During college, I started working at the Brown School's or San Marcos Treatment Center...a residential facility for emotionally and mentally disturbed children and young adults.
My first dorm was a dorm with mentally challenged young women and women.....including my 1:1 who was and Autistic 16 year old female. I adored Kim....she was non-verbal and flapped and jumped. When she escaped out of our locked dorm, she ran naked down the hill straight to the convenience store...with staff running after her. She so reminds me of Caitlin and Kiernan.
I worked there for many years....I loved the job. I got burned out after about 5 years and decided to try another career path.
I started working for Sheraton Reservations and became a 1-800 reservations call taker. I quickly moved up to Support/Customer Service. Through that job, I went to New York City and interviewed for a job at The Sheraton Centre Hotel and Towers. I got the job and moved to NYC in June of 1987.
Through a co-worker, I met Patrick, my husband.
We fell in love very quickly and before you know it, I was pregnant with Caitlin.
My dad fell very ill with lung cancer and we moved back to Austin.....here, I decided nobody could care for Caitlin like I could, because she screamed all of the time as an infant and was beginning to show signs of Autism...it took many doctors to finally diagnose her at 2 1/2 years of age. So, I had a registered in-home daycare. I took care of other people's babies...and I was good at it.
I began to get a reputation for being a great daycare provider. I went to school on weekends to learn more about Early Childhood and to get my Second Helping certificate...that was hard work.
By the time I had Kiernan, I had to quit taking in other children. He was very hard to handle, and with 6 children, it was all I could do to get them to therapies and deal with everyday life.
There was not anything I did not think my children couldn't do because of the Autism. I expected the same things from them that I would expect from any child. I believe them to be children first and then children with Autism would come in second or third.
Our children are to get good grades, C's are not acceptable for our children. They are to be polite and courteous to everyone. They are to sit in a chair in school and sit quietly while the teacher is teaching....unfortunately, other children don't seem to have the same respect for the teacher's as they should.
When I am asked how our children are so wonderful in public, it is because we expect them to be. We would not allow anything but good behaviors.
When you walk into our home, you do not find chaos....you find children.
Last Saturday, there were 10 children in our home. I had 2 that were sleeping over and 2 that a friend of mine asked me to watch for a few hours. No one has second thoughts about letting their children play with our children. Our children are non-aggressive and loving. They share their toys and are happy when other children come over.
We are blessed with a happy home, for the most part. I am happy with how I look and how I feel about myself. I am 47 years old and have come to a point in my life where I do not "sweat the small stuff".
As I sit here, with Kiernan on my lap, giving me kisses and hugs...I know my reason for being here. I know that my purpose was to raise 6 of the most amazing children God has put on this Earth. I know my job is to continue to make sure they are accepted in Society and with that I must make sure Society is accepting of our children.
I don't think this will be as hard as other people think it will be....I think we are all ready for acceptance and the willingness to allow our children to be part of our communities. I know in our community it works well.
So, now that I know my purpose...I must do what I was put on this great, big, beautiful Earth to do....that is to raise my children with Autism and with that is to raise Awareness to everyone about Autism.
This starts NOW......get ready.
- I am the proud mother of 6 children. 5 of our children have autism. We do not feel our world has ended, but just begun. We do not chelate, intervene biochemically, give shots of any kind, practice ABA, etc. We treat them as we treat any humanbeing. We treat them with kindness and respect and expect the same from them. They are exceptional children.
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