Contributor: Helen Nychka
I am so excited to be a part of a community of autism professionals who are intensely passionate and thoughtful about their work. In my 30+ years of being a speech and language pathologist, specializing in the treatment of autism spectrum disorders, I find I am intensely happy when working in the company of others who are digging in, with deep shovels, to the ever changing, challenging soil of autism spectrum disorders.
I moved into private practice in my 30’s mostly because it offered the flexibility in raising my 3 children. I had a good friend in private practice that had begged me to join her for years, and I had resisted saying, “It will be too isolated; I need colleagues!” But when my first daughter was born, that miracle trumped everything and private practice suddenly looked like the perfect way to be at home the majority of the time while “keeping my thumb in” my work.
I was so wonderfully surprised to find that my first clients in private practice gained skills at warp speed compared to all my other work settings. When a parent is present for the entire therapy session, and is included in the opportunities to build communication skills, they become adept at challenging and supporting their child’s skill acquisition. The families I worked with became colleagues. We figured out, together, what was most important to work on and how to work in a way that felt more like having fun with your child than “ doing therapy.” It was a win-win-win, child – parent – therapist dynamic. Heady stuff.
I am still thrilled when I see the people connection “click” for a child who is challenged by such connections, but especially thrilled when it’s between parent and child. That connection is core to our being; it is the essence of being human. When you are a parent and it’s difficult to connect with your child, contrary to the popular saying, life is not good. But when the social-communicative, emotional, connection happens, it is good.
It is these essential parts of learning and our social relationships that Thrive aims to seek, sow, and share with the Autism community. We welcome you to our dreams, and we are thrilled to be a part of your journey.