From Special Education Teacher to Autism Mom Blogger
This is a post in the weekly Autism Hopes series by Lisa Quinones-Fontanez, a mom who blogs over at Atypical Familia.
When Norrin was first diagnosed with autism, I didn’t know anything about the diagnosis or navigating the special needs system. I was able to talk to friend of a friend who was a speech therapist. She provided the emotional support I needed and helped me better understand the process. A few years later, her son was diagnosed with autism. She called me up crying and I gave her the support she needed.
Being a special education professional doesn’t always make the diagnosis easier to accept or understand.
No one knows that better than Mama Fry who writes the blog Autism with a Side of Fries.Written with honesty and humor, Mama Fry doesn’t pretend she knows all the answers – even though she once worked in special education. She even wrote a post about her experience sitting on the other side of the IEP table.
Earlier this month, I got to ask Mama Fry a few questions:
What did you know/think about autism when you were a special education teacher?
Not nearly enough. I haven’t been in a classroom for about 9 years now and much has changed. Back then it was more about getting kids to be all the same or “normal” rather than celebrating and tapping into their skill sets.
How did you advise autism/special needs parents?
My area was vocational training. I was thinking past school. Getting them ready for what real life job situations might happen. Most of my conversations with parents then was problem solving behaviors or trying to figure out accommodations that would suit their kid best.
What was it like when your son was diagnosed?
Surreal. It absolutely never occurred to me that he might have autism. I thought it was a speech delay and that’s it. I was truly gobsmacked. I had recently stopped working outside the home because working with autism was burning me out. Surprise! It came to live with me instead.
How have you changed since?
I understand how each kid is just so different. My son is not just a name on a page to me. He’s my heart. I can’t punch out at the end of a shift. Behaviors are communication not just non compliance.
What advice would you give to special ed teachers who don’t have special needs kids?
Ask about what’s going on at home. Sleep is a huge factor. Eating too. Realize the student you have, their behaviors could be based on those two things a lot. Ask what concerns the parents the most. Share what’s working in class.
Catch up with my last post: A Little Girl Gets a Second Chance at Childhood
And from my other blog:
- The Picture that Prompted a Conversation
- My Kid Got His 1st Trophy. He Wasn’t The Best Player But He Deserved It Just the Same.
- 12 Tips for Autism Families Planning a Walt Disney World Vacation