My Journey

My son, Ryan, and me

As I look back over the last 18 years, I begin to see life parenting a child with autism as a journey.  At times, you move along smoothly, barely noticing how far you have gone.  At other times, you seem to encounter one obstacle after another on the road, and there are points where you fear you have lost your way.

As an educator, I have also been privileged to have shared this journey with many other parents and their children.  It is truly an honor to celebrate the accomplishments and milestones—whether big or small—and to share the moments of frustration or even despair.

Over the years I have learned much about autism and being Ryan’s mom. But, I know that I still have a great deal to learn, and believe that a lot of that knowledge can come from a dialogue with other parents and professionals.

My interest in writing this blog is to share some thoughts from the perspective of both a parent and a professional who has worked in the disabilities field for more than three decades.  From all of these experiences, the motto that I have adopted is that you can look at your cup as half full or half empty. I prefer half full.

While immensely valuable, research in the field of autism sometimes creates a large pool of confusing and often conflicting information.  I hope to help others wade through all of the data, studies and opinions to find things that will truly help their child. I also look forward to sharing some of the tips and suggestions that I have found to work for my own family. Stay tuned…I look forward to taking this journey with you.

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23 Responses to My Journey

  1. Anonymous says:

    WOW….What a wonderful thing you are doing 🙂 Emily Ingram

  2. Sallie Newsham says:

    Maureen, What a great idea! I am looking forward to following your blog.

  3. Kathleen Vogt says:

    So excited about the blog. I couldn’t believe how grown up Ryan looks. Ryan has provided a journey for us all to learn about the best strategies for helping children on the spectrum. However, best of all he has taught us compassion, understanding, perseverance and determination. He taught us all this through despair at times but most of the time through celebration and humor. Thanks for sharing this personal journey as you have so much to share both as a mom and a professional. Think about you both often and thank you for helping me grow as a professional. Kathy vogt

    • Kathy, as one of his first teachers, you can be truly proud of who he has become. It has been a journey, one that we continue each day. But I do hope that though the blog , I will be able to save a few steps for others who are just beginning this journey.
      We think of you often! You can email Ryan …Ryan He has an ipad that he loves and emails people daily.
      My best to you and the family.

  4. I am so proud of your blog! Working with you, I get the pleasure of learning more and more each day….I am so very excited that you are now able to share your personal and professional experiences with others via the web! I look forward to sharing your blog with friends and family. Through your advice and stories, you are opening the doors to a very unfamiliar world to many. I hope that your words will inspire others to take a more active role in the autism community. Keep up the good work, Maureen!

  5. Kathy Fling says:

    Maureen, Indeed, I understand what you write about the journey. I have been fortunate to work along side of you for these 3 decades and have personally seen the growth of the BNI autism services and take great pride in the work we do. I am also very impressed with your willingness to share your professional expertise as it takes much time and dedication to commit to such a “world wide” share. Furthermore, I am most impressed that you and Ryan have decided to share your personal story as well. It takes a very loving and proud Mom to do such a thing. You are a remarkable woman.

    • Kathy, What sets the BNI apart is the outstanding staff we have who truly want to make dreams come true for our children and adults. We are so fortunate to have you as part of our BNI family!

  6. britnyee says:

    Maureen, I believe this is a excellent way to educate people who may not be familiar with Autism and to provide additional information to people who want to learn more about the data and studies that have been done. On a personal note, I am happy that I have been able to work more closely with you because you are truly a great person who takes pride in what you believe in. Keep up the good work 🙂

  7. Anonymous says:

    Maureen, Thnak you for sharing your professional expertise about autism and its challenges but more impotantly

  8. Anonymous says:

    Your experience as an educator and as a mother of a child on the autism spectrum

  9. Jayne Cutter says:

    Although it has been many years since I have worked with you, I am looking forward to your expertise as a parent of an autistic adult and as an educator,. My son also falls under the autistic umbrella,. He has been diagnosed with Asburger’s. It has trully been a journey that my husband and I have travelled often feeling alone since our son marches to the beat of a different drummer.
    Jayne Cutter

  10. Anonymous says:

    Oh! He is a handsome guy now. Maureen,…You are well done.

  11. tinab772 says:

    how wonderful it was to hear about this web site. I have just recently begun my journey with my son who has Aspergers and PDD. If it wasn’t for my wonderful soon to be husband and step father to my son I would feel alone out there. As Jayne Cutter said “my son beats to a different drummer as well. How do you get through it and try to make it a smooth sail?

  12. Tom Kitchen says:

    I echo the comments of others who commend you for sharing your journey. No matter how educated one becomes, regardless of how experienced one is clinically/professionally, we limit ourselves if we fail to seek the perspectives of parents. You are in the very unique position to be able to share your thoughts as both an accomplished professional and as a parent who has “walked the walk.” It has been my longstanding belief that if we do things the right way, our kids and their families teach us as much (if not more) than we teach them. Your journey, I’m sure, has provided evidence for this time and again. This could help so many. I am glad you are doing it.

  13. Jayne Cutter says:

    Some days I just let Calgon to take me away. I am fortunate that John, my son, is diagnosed with mild asberger’s, but also he is ADHD and has a Learning disabilty in math. Some times it has been difficult but I have a wonderful support system of friends. John is now 21 and gifted us with a beautiful granddaughter who shows no signs of his disabilites. She is now 3 years old and is so smart and friendly. John is trying to become a member of the workforce and currently works in a factory. We as a family have been in counseling for years as well as have encouraged our young adult son successfully to go back on medicine for ADHD as well as something to relieve his anxiety. I pray nightly for God to give John the means to continue to grow academically, socially and emotionally. Just hang in there because of educating the public maybe more and more people will understand our children no matter how they appear to them and accept them as we have as parents accepted our children for who they are.

    • Thank you for sharing your personal story with me. I’m a firm believer in that God only gives us the challenges that we can overcome.

    • tinab772 says:

      Jayne Cutter
      My son Tommy also has a learning disability in math as well as central auditory processing disorder..He has been homed schooled since March as he could not take the bullying anymore nor I. Since then his grades have gone up and he has accelled so much with his education. His 1 on 1 with the help of a tutor has made a huge impact on his life, but now the school wants to try to get him back in for 8th grade, but still do not know how they are going to accommodate my son. I am very frustrated, as I sit and watch my son having anxiety attacks just to go in for exams. He truly does not want to go back to school. Would you have any suggestion as to how I could make this process easier for him and myself? I pray so much that he gets through these hard times.

      • Jayne Cutter says:

        Hello Tina,
        Bullying is a tough problem. Although home schooling is one solution I feel this isolates him. Middle school students are not always the kindest kids in school. They are a mass of raging hormones. What school are you talking about?. I work for Erie school district. You may want to talk to the counselors and principal about what plan can be made. Bullying is unacceptable in any school setting John was not bulllied in middle school because he found his niche and was an excellent drummer in 2 music classes so the other students admired that. He was bullied in high school and it was a miserable time for him. Does he have any friends from last year? Travelling from class to class in a small group can help prevent bullying in the halls and when 1st entering the classroom. It is tough on teachers to moniter the halls and the classroom at the same time. Please keep in contact and I will inquire from my teacher friends for more ideas.

  14. Anonymous says:

    This is a wonderful resource for parents and other professionals who work with autistic children. You not only have professional knowledge
    , you have real life experience which is invaluable. Thank you for taking the time to do this for our community! You are a true inspiration! Ryan is so very fortunate!

  15. Cyn says:

    I’m looking forward in reading your personal and profession insights into raising a child with autism. Thank you for following me 🙂

  16. Karen Berry says:

    Maureen, Your blog is wonderful. You have always demonstrated a burning desire to help others and you are to be commended for your many accomplishments, including this one. It is a terrific way to reach out to those in need. You continue to be an inspiration to all of us who have worked with you over the years – such an enthusiastic, loving, and dedicated mother, teacher, leader, scholar, and friend. You are the voice of the children and adults with autism. You bring hope for the future. I was blessed to have had the opportunity to work with you and learn from you. Thank you from the bottom of my heart!! Karen Berry

    • Karen, I am thrilled that you are reading the blog. Your comments are too kind! You, too, have spent your career “making dreams come true” for our children, adults, and families.

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