An Exclusive Look at AUTISM With Celeste Viciere
Encouragement speaker Derrick Hayes gives an AUTISM interview by asking six questions through each letter in the word AUTISM to give readers insightful perspectives from parents, experts, entrepreneurs, and other leaders in the field.
Today’s AUTISM Interview is with Celeste Viciere, LMHC, who is an author and host of Celeste The Therapist Podcast at www.celestethetherapist.com. Celeste Viciere is a licensed mental health clinician (LMHC) and cognitive behavioral therapist with a private practice based in the Boston area, The Uniting Center. She holds a master’s degree in counseling from the University of Massachusetts in Boston. Celeste has been in the mental health field for more than 15 years and believes in the power of living a conscious life. She works with adults and couples and specializes in depression, anxiety, substance abuse, bipolar and psychotic disorder.
Celeste’s recently published guided journal, 365 Days of Intentional Living, is focused on helping people learn how their emotions guide their actions in everyday situations. Her podcast, Celeste The Therapist focuses on ways to shift your mindset and change your thought process.
A is for Awareness
When and how did you first become aware that something was different?
Because I adopted my son at the age of five, I was already aware that he had autism. I knew about autism but didn’t really understand it. I remember when the door would close, I watched how he would stare at the door and would open and close it. I saw that he was trying to figure out the mechanisms of the door. A typical person would shut the door and not really think twice about how it worked.
U is for Unique
How has this experience been Unique for you and your child?
This experience is definitely unique. I already knew people were different but never really thought about it in depth. Having a son with autism is a constant reminder of how different we are and how we can see the world differently.
T is for Tools
What tools are there now that were not there in the beginning that could help other parents?
One thing that has been helpful for me is making sure I address issues he was struggling with at the moment. For example, when he would scream for things, he was used to being handed what he wanted to stop the screaming.
The way he acted out was overwhelming, and I felt I had no other choice but to give in. In an effort to change how he reacted when he wanted something, I ended up making a book with pictures of the things he wanted. Instead of screaming, he learned to get the book and point to what he wanted.
I is for Inspire
As a parent when you look at your child or children what inspires you?
I am inspired by my son because he is resilient. I am continually impressed with how he continues to operate in society, even though he may not always fit in. He is someone who is not afraid to try, and I love that about 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?
A major key is support. I felt like I had absolutely no one. My husband worked, and I was at home with my son alone dealing with his behaviors. I could not get out of the house and felt myself getting depressed. I decided to go online, and I was able to get support from social networks online and eventually created my own support network. That allowed me to realize I was
not alone. It was also a way for me to care for myself by feeding my own need for support.
Through learning about autism, I realized that communities of color, in particular, may not have the right information and resources, so it’s incredibly important that people continue to talk openly about it. While my work generally focuses on raising awareness for mental health, I continue to speak about and advocate for autism awareness too.
M is for Manage
What keys to success can you leave with parents so that they can better manage their day to day efforts?
As I mentioned above, a major key is support. I didn’t know anyone with a special needs child. I think it is important to try and find support wherever you can, especially if your child is struggling with many behaviors that you may not know how to deal with. As much as possible, it’s important to try and stay consistent in reaching out for support and know that you are not alone.
Derrick Hayes is an author, motivational speaker, and paraprofessional in the Muscogee County School District in Columbus, Georgia.
This article was featured in Issue 82 – Finding Peace This Season