SOESD / Learning Matters / Newsletter Archive / February 2009 / What the Autism Program Means to Me
What the Autism Program Means to Me
by Krista Stromme, Parent
While taking a psychology class this past year at Southern Oregon University, I was asked to make a list of the most influential people in my life. The very first name I put on my list was that of my childrenís autism consultant. Navigating through life with two children on the autism spectrum can be difficult, but having someone like Kirby Erickson on my IEP team has proven over and over to be a life saver.
My autism consultant knows my children very well. We have been through it all together, from coming up with a plan to help my oldest son keep his clothes on at school, to helping my younger son learn how to become more of a social being. Those things may seem simple to most, but when youíre dealing with autism, it is anything but. There have been very difficult times; I honestly canít imagine how I would have gotten so far with my children if it were not for the help of the autism program.
When my oldest son transitioned to high school, it was anything but easy. The new environment combined with a new staff led to total overload for Bradley. His violence level flew off the charts. It was so difficult that I thought I would need to take him out of school. I feared for his safety as well as the safety of the staff and students working around Bradley. When I told our autism consultant how I was feeling, she stood up for my son; she explained how she could help him to become a successful student again, and that she could train the staff, helping them to understand Bradley better. She also explained how detrimental it could be if I were to take him out of school, as well as the services he could loose. She didnít let me make the wrong decision and I am so grateful for that advice.
My autism consultant has done more than just help my two children; she has helped our entire family. She has taught me how to advocate for my own children and has inspired me to become an advocate for all people with special needs. So coming up with that first name on my list of most influential people in my life was real easy, because I knew I wouldnít even be able to attend that psychology class had it not been for my very dedicated autism consultant following through with her promise to make my son a successful student again.