Today, I watched, "Best Kept Secret." It is a documentary about a young teacher (Janet Mino) in Newark, NJ working with students with Autism, who are also in poverty. This documentary was so inspiring in so many ways. I hope to be like Janet, or even have the chance to talk/work with her one day. She went to work everyday but instead of leaving her students' troubles at the door when the school bell rang, she went home and carried those problems with her like they were her own children.
I often wonder why I can be so happy in one job and then so unhappy in the next. All dealing with helping those with special needs and I always LOVE my clients -- but sometimes, I can dread going to work and I never understood why. Sometimes, I thought it was because of the atmosphere, I was tired, I was stressed, I was jealous those who could communicate (unlike my brother), etc. However, after watching Janet with her students and spending tons of hours outside of her job on them, I finally figured out my problem with some of my jobs.
When I go into some of my jobs, the co-workers, mentor, boss are there and obviously care for their clients. However, theres a different type of a "care" that I think some people have. There are people who come in, try to help their client as much as possible, and go home at the end of the day. There are people who go home every night and think about their clients. For instance, I have one friend that works for me who noticed one of our clients walks on his toes and ruined all of his shoes. My friend, had old shoes that helped "toe walkers" and brought it in for him to try/have. That's the true meaning of really caring. Janet would visit each opportunity that her students may have for after high school programs, and would not only tour the place, but insist on certain things being implemented for her unique student. Janet's view was that these young people should not be put in an assembly line to just do work all day to keep them busy -- they should be continuing their education, doing things they love, having a social life, and working. Some may argue that "no one helps us after we leave our 9-5 job" but these individuals are different! And not different because of their disabilities, but different because they need the extra helping hand. Not to focus on their disability, but to help them have a good quality of life.
I think this is the reason that even though when I dislike my job to the extreme, I stay, because I want the best for my clients. I can't bare to leave them and not be there to see them progress or get them the help they need. I wish I could take the majority of them home with me every night just so I know that they are safe, continuing to learn, and enjoying their life. I dislike jobs because things are done so differently when there is a different type of "caring" that exists in the work place from what I expect because of my own passion. Is this because I am a sister? No. I don't think so because there are plenty of people I know that go the extra mile every single day and have no relations to Autism or other special needs at all.
I give a lot of the credit to Mrs. Zink, my Life Skills internship mentor, for helping me become the person I am today. Other than my brother, she was the first person I learned from about disabilities, how they were to be treated, and how you could help them. She always went the extra mile for her students, continued to stay in touch with them after they graduated, and cared about their well-being after they left school at the end of the day. She's an amazing teacher and I wish there were more people like her in this world to help individuals like my brother.
Anyways, after coming to this realization... I decided that I not only wanted to continue my goal to create an adult program for people with Autism (since there are so few) but I want to mainly work with those who are not as fortunate. There is no reason an individual should "fall off the cliff" just because they aged out or don't have enough money for the treatment they need. Everyone deserves a good quality of life.
Please watch "Best Kept Secret" (TRAILER) >>>>>>
Autism from a sibling's point of view...
My name is Paige and I am 24 years old. I graduated from Towson University with a Psychology Bachelors Degree. I am now working towards my Master's in Education of Autism and other Pervasive Disorders at Johns Hopkins. I am also a Behavior Data Specialist at the Kennedy Krieger Institute Neurobehavioral Inpatient Unit. My younger brother, Sammy, is 19 and has Autism. He is completely non-verbal, unaware of safety, is not toilet trained, cannot get himself dressed, and has difficulty with everyday activities that we all take advantage of. He works harder every single day of his life than anyone I know and he always does it with a smile on his face. He is my true hero and inspiration and because of him, I have dedicated my life to advocating and creating opportunities for individuals with Autism. I hope that I can make him proud and this blog is just a small part of the awareness I hope I can create about Autism and support other siblings impacted by Autism. I love you Sammy - thank you for everything.