"It takes a village!" is a phrase I hear so much in the autism and special needs community. I could not agree more with this phrase or African proverb since getting to this point in my life would not have been possible if it were not for the numerous people such as therapists, aides and family who helped me along the way. No one can deal with a disability alone (especially autism) since you often face barriers, challenges and also feelings of isolation when living with special needs. My support network has helped me develop the confidence and acceptance to become a self advocate. The one person who was vital in helping me with my find my voice was my behavioral therapist who I have been seeing for 10 years. Although at the beginning of our relationship, I was resistant to working with her over time I realize that she helped me grow as a person and the coping strategies she has taught me such as journaling helped me develop an idea of wanting to write a book about my life. Hence, "Working the Doubleshift: A Young Woman's Journey with Autism" was born.
Another group that is part of my "village" is the numerous aides and mentors who helped me throughout the years. They spent a lot of time with me and helped me deal with my feelings of isolation especially during my middle and high school years. I felt I could turn to them for advice and emotional support when my therapists were unavailable and I do not feel like turning to my parents for advice and support.
My village is constantly changing and expanding. I will meet new people who I can add to my "support village." Today I am happy with my current support network of family, support people and friends who will continue to support me on my journey as I continue to grow and explore what I want to do.