An Exclusive Look at AUTISM With Becky Schoenfeldt
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 Becky Schoenfeldt who is an Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) therapist with a child with autism. Becky’s initial reaction to her child’s diagnosis was disbelief and then anger. As prepared as she was as a parent, it was still a kick in the gut to hear this diagnosis.
Time heals all wounds, and with more understanding, Becky was able to become a better parent to help her son succeed on the spectrum. Doug is now 15 years old and continues to get assistance from an excellent team of educators and clinicians, and is making incredible strides.
A is for Awareness
When and how did you first become aware that something was different?
Doug was four weeks premature and didn’t have enough red blood cells. His twin brother took a lot of them, so the boys needed a twin-to-twin transfusion. At age three, we noticed Doug wouldn’t respond to his name or loud noises such as banging pots and pans. He scooted on his bottom instead of crawling. We thought he was deaf and sought an audiologist. Then as he got older, he began self-injurious behaviors (SIBs) when sensory overloaded, anxious and not able to communicate his needs and wants.
U is for Unique
How has this experience been Unique for you and your child?
Once I accepted my son for who he was, I was able to see the strength and beauty I hadn’t seen before. He suddenly made sense to me and once I understood the things and his needs that he struggled with, it made every milestone that much more significant.
T is for Tools
What tools are there now that were not there in the beginning that could help other parents?
ABA home services and a great school – the Center for Applied Behavioral Instruction (CABI)!
I is for Inspire
As a parent when you look at your child or children what inspires you?
Doug never judging those who judge him and without fail, Doug being “him.”
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S is for Support
Are there things you struggle with or have struggled with and what types of support do you still need?
Transitions, self-injury behaviors, new activities/medical procedures, in which social stories help reduce anxiety and to know/understand expectations.
M is for Manage
What keys to success can you leave with parents so that they can better manage their day to day efforts?
Remember to have a backbone and a funny bone when times are tough. Through the highs and lows, be patient, love, cry, talk to your child as you would with a typical child and you will gradually reach him or her. Those who stare and judge, or who may not understand when your child is having a hard time— you will learn to tune them out and focus on your child in the challenging moments.
This article was featured in Issue 86 – Working Toward a Healthy Life with ASD