I talked a bit about the inspiration behind my first children’s book. There is a lot more in my background that I am going to being utilizing in my coming books in the series. When I began my career in 2014, I started actually working with adults living in residential group homes who had dual diagnosis of mental health disorders and Autism. Most times we would say our clients were developmentally disabled but that is just another way of saying they had Autism. I had no idea what I was getting myself into, but I will say I was trained very well. I have met many amazing people over the years who genuinely cared about the adults we worked with. When I got the final company, I would work for with adults I was asked during my training to plan different events for the clients I had. I think it was about six months into working there that I actually started to. It was this freedom given to me by my supervisors that is part of the inspiration for my books. Each book is going to focus on a different adventure or activity the girls do.
The reason for this is I took my clients at that last residential group home company, and I always invited all the other houses, but usually only the ones I worked with came, anywhere and everywhere I could. I always talk about how I took them to the Crayola factory ( a client’s idea actually and an incredibly special client I will never forget because they always made me laugh), took them to Dorney park.
Now Dorney park I will never forget because one I took a client on a water slide, never thought I would I be in shorts and a tank around clients, but I did it. But the best part, was sitting on a coaster a client in between me and staff, and the staff goes “he’s cursing you out” and low and behold he was! Now do not think it was with bad intent, it was funnier than anything. I did turn to that client and ask if they wanted off more than once, they said no. This client loved roller coasters; their family would take them to theme parks. The client was just acting like a typical twenty something, I mean come on I scream on coasters and I curse a lot at my poor trainer at the gym😉 The client did not want to go home when it was time to leave, lets put it that way. I also took them apple and pumpkin picking, had a paint and sip with sparkling cider, karaoke nights and started a special Olympics bowling team that lasted two seasons. My clients would ask me daily what our next event would be. They would ask me if we had bowling this weekend; I would see my clients once a week. I had great support and great staff to work with me and help me with these events. All it takes is one or two good people to realize that just because they have a disability does not mean they cannot do any and everything another person could that does not have the same disability. By the way I was the behavior specialist for these clients. The majority of those clients had severe behavior issues like verbal aggression or cursing for no reason, aggression like hitting or would simple walk away. And these clients I took out into the community to these super fun events and you know what, I never had one issue. Not one client had an episode in the community. Being a behavior specialist I of course had one very behavioral client who liked to sometimes have episodes usually when we had karaoke night, but like I said, I worked with some amazing people that would handle this client quickly and efficiently. I always talk about my experience and in particular planning events to people. Their reaction is always the same: shock and amazement and I do not mind it. Because it gets the persons mind going and thinking hey if she could do it and be open to adults with disabilities I can too. I kind of fell into this field by finding my master’s program and then finding my first job in this field. But I would not change a thing because this journey has been absolutely amazing. And now I can bring those experiences to others. That is why is part of why I decided to make the first book be more than just a little neurotypical girl forming a friendship with another little one with autism. I wanted there to be an experience, an adventure they go through together. This can show that those with a disability or autism are not the ones limited, it is actually those around them who make the limits. The only things that hold us back are the limits we create for ourselves.