Several months ago, I was asked by a friend to speak to a group that she is a member of. A society of elite teachers called Delta Kappa Gamma. They were interested in hearing about Autism from a mother’s perspective. Our story and any advice that I had for the teachers as to how to handle kiddos like Cannon in the classroom. I was humbled and honored to be asked. I thought this was such a cool opportunity to do some good and give back to the Autism community. Something that God has really laid on my heart.
I immediately had tons of ideas flood my mind and it took a long time to settle down and decide exactly how I wanted to approach it. I determined that I wanted to use a power point presentation to tell our story. I felt I needed the audience to truly connect with us. To see the timeline of regression, impossible struggles, and gut wrenching heartache we experienced. And to evoke empathy and compassion towards Cannon’s day-to-day plight. In hopes of establishing a desire in their hearts to change teaching styles and techniques to better accommodate children with Autism in their classrooms. I am an extremely visual person and wanted to tell the story using photos, powerful words, and music that was specific to the struggle that is Autism. I had, however, somehow managed to escape college without ever having to make a power point (or taking Public Speaking for that matter). So I wasn’t sure I could pull it off. You may remember that I have admitted to not being the most computer savvy mom on the block. But I found an amazing app (shout out to the “Keynote” app) that made it a total cinch. After uploading tons of old photos, digging deep to write our story with emotion and truth, and researching and downloading great Autism songs……the task was complete. And I am happy with how it turned out.
So, in January, the day arrived that I was to give my presentation to the Delta Kappa Gamma Society. Our story was the first half of the presentation and I did a second power point piece for the advice portion of the talk. (I will tell you about that part in my next post.) I was introduced to the group of approximately 50 teachers by my good friend Darby. Hearing her tell of my credentials was quite laughable. They are saturated in athletics with jobs in recreation, strength and conditioning, and coaching. I have a degree in Physical Education and Health. But not in teaching it. However, I did. At a private Christian school for a while before moving out west. When I got to my current location, I worked as a Long Term Substitute Teacher due to my lack of a teaching degree. I was sitting there listening to her talk and wondering if these teachers were thinking….. what on earth was I doing there. And what could I possibly teach THEM. I was soooo nervous! I even joked that I was going to stand behind a nearby podium instead of the table I had set up so that they couldn’t see how bad I fidget. Then, I took a deep breath, said a silent prayer, and jumped right in!
I thanked them for allowing me to come and speak on behalf of all the families struggling with this disorder. I told them how our family life has been completely redefined by the joy and heartache of Autism. And what a challenge it is to meet our son in his world and draw him into ours. How I am constantly tempted when asked by strangers….”What do you do?”…….to say “I do Autism.” Because there is no part of my day that isn’t touched by my son’s disability. I told them that I am just a mom…..not a speaker. And that I may not have been a classically trained teacher but that I had logged a lot of hours in a classroom and had done tons of research on this subject. And then…… I deferred to my video….to allow them a visual look into our lives and the transition our son made from typical 2 year old to atypical child with Autism.
Now, here is your chance to view that same video. And to know the whole story. Please watch and if you feel so led……share. More on this cool opportunity in part 2…..my next post……coming soon! Much love!