An Exclusive Look at AUTISM with Taryn Plendl
Encouragement speaker Derrick Hayes gives an AUTISM Interview by asking six questions through each letter in the word AUTISM to give readers an insightful perspective from parents, experts, entrepreneurs and other leaders in the field.
Today’s AUTISM Interview is with Taryn Plendl, a USA Today bestselling author and a mother who, along with her husband, adopted a young girl with autism named Brie in 2001. She is now an amazing 18-year-old girl who brings such joy to their lives every day.
Taryn is a lover of books and wine, usually enjoying them together. Writing has been a way for her to step away from chaotic reality and live a bit through her fun and sometimes damaged characters. You will almost always find a ‘happily ever after’ at the end of her stories. She can’t help it; it’s an addiction.
Taryn enjoys spending time with her friends and family but cherishes those quiet nights after everyone is asleep when she can curl up on the couch to read with her geriatric dog. (Shh, don’t tell…he’s not supposed to be on the couch.). For more information about Taryn, please go to http://www.tarynplendl.com/.
A is for Awareness – When and how did you first become aware that something was different?
We adopted our daughter when she was three years old. She is now 18. Many of the signs were missed, as we were new parents. Looking back, it is easy to see the signs, such as meltdowns over loud noises, certain textures and the way she would play by lining things up by colors.
U is for Unique – How has this experience been Unique for you and your child? Everything about this experience has been unique. Our daughter is an ever-changing mystery. It has been one of struggles and stress, but above all, one of discovery, patience, and love.
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T is for Tools – What tools are there now that were not there in the beginning that could help other parents?
It is hard to know if the tools were there in the beginning, or if we were just unaware of them. At the time of her diagnosis, the internet was not full of the vast knowledge that it is now and support groups were few and far between, yet essential. We are now aware of the programs through the public school in our area that has been monumental in our child’s success. We are just beginning to navigate the transition to adult and have found so much information and support through the county. I feel it is essential to find out how your county can help you and what services are available.
I is for Inspire – As a parent when you look at your child or children what inspires you?
Every day I am amazed at the person our daughter is becoming. Early intervention has been key for us. Speech therapy and occupational therapy (OT) have helped us guide our daughter and teach her necessary skills that others take for granted. Small successes bring huge rewards to her confidence and ability to be a functional, and hopefully, an independent part of society. Our daughter recently had a paid internship through the county on a horse farm. The growth and responsibility that our daughter showed was so inspiring.
S is for Support – Are there things you struggle with or have struggled with and what types of support do you still need?
As parents of a child on the spectrum, we have struggled with knowing how to best help our daughter. It was essential for us to find a support group where we could just feel like we were not alone in this journey. As a young child, our daughter struggled with sensory issues. It was difficult, to say the least. I’ve always felt like just when I figured out how to help my child, that the issues changed and I was starting over. For a teenager on the spectrum, I feel like it is so important to find social experiences for them so that they can learn to be involved and exist in everyday activities.
M is for Manage – What keys to success can you leave with parents so that they can better manage their day to day efforts?
Find support wherever you can, and understand that in different stages, you may need to move on to other areas of support to meet your needs. Our children are so unique and ever-changing. We need to find resources that meet those needs as they change. Don’t be afraid to reach out to the schools and county to see what is available. There are so many programs that aren’t always common knowledge. If they don’t know you need help, they can’t give it to you. Most of all, hang in there. It is a long and tough battle, however, it is so worth it!
Derrick Hayes is an author, motivational speaker and paraprofessional in the Muscogee County School District in Columbus, Georgia.
This article was featured in Issue 76 – Raising A Child with Autism