AT HOME WITH
It was this time last year we heard the news. I returned home from a hot summer day drenched in sweat from running around with the children who attended Camp SSTAR. I couldn’t wait to sit and gulp down an ice-cold glass of water and think about nothing for a few minutes before I redirected my thinking to home life. As I entered into our temporary home (my in-laws), my husband greeted me with a smile and excitedly told me that the offer on the house we were interested in was accepted. Mustering up the energy to share his excitement, I hugged him as he spun me around and shared his elatedness. I was overcome with emotion and thoughts. My mind quickly revamped from the day, this time flying in a different direction than it had been in the hours before it. Rather than being consumed with children’s schedules, camp goals and behavior management, my mind was now running through the changes and emotion that come with a newfound responsibility. Our new home.
While I shared the excitement of our own home, I began reflecting on the work that needed to be done in order to make our new home ours. We had decided to buy a house that needed “flipped.” You know, the shows on TV that renovate and remodel homes. That was ours. It was going to take a lot of work and energy to make it our own. Luckily, my husband is a carpenter, painter, remodeler, builder and all-around, home do anything type of man. It’s what he does for a living, and he is superb at it; thus, the interior of the home didn’t worry me so much. What weighed on my mind was the foundation. The bricks and mortar of the home. Were they sturdy? Would the person assessing this be reliable and knowledgeable? Moreover, was the foundation solid? Would it hold and carry my family in the years to come? Would it provide us the structure we needed to make our home effective for our future goals in life?
The same concept applies for families of those impacted by autism when choosing therapy for their children. How do these families create a foundation for these children? How do they make decisions that lay the groundwork for all of the dreams they want their children to accomplish? How do they trust those around them when making these decisions? This concept often weighs on my mind in my career. If I were a parent who recently obtained a diagnosis or received guidance that my child was potentially impacted by autism, where would I turn? How would I know where to start? Who do I trust in this process?
As we trusted an expert (i.e. someone certified in evaluating home foundation), I urge families of children impacted by autism to do the same. Find a practitioner who specializes in autism to help you guide your process and your therapies for your child or loved one. This includes doctors, mental health practitioners, therapists, case managers, teachers, administrators and so much more. Research yourselves and find out what practices will give you the bricks and mortar in structuring your child’s goals in life. I can tell you that evidenced-based practices are the most solid foundation you will find when starting your journey. These differ from research-based practices in some noteworthy ways. Evidence-based practices include current and research validated results where research-based practices are current practices that have research being conducted in order to show effectiveness. Here is a link of evidence-based practices (or your foundation) for the treatment-starting point for your loved one based on findings from the website, The National Professional Development Center on Autism Spectrum Disorder: http://autismpdc.fpg.unc.edu/evidence-based-practices. This site will help you make decisions and ask questions to practitioners when making decisions that will navigate you through your decision process in building that foundation for your child or loved one.
When choosing my home, I knew I didn’t want a home made from sticks and glue, but a home that was made from bricks and mortar with a solid foundation for standing tall in the years to come. Best of luck in your journey and may the foundation you build for your loved one be strong and sturdy.