Wednesday, August 31, 2011

What I Did This Summer

My summer began late in May when my parents came back from their annual winter trip to California.  They stayed longer this year because my dad was not feeling well enough to drive back across the country.  He and Mom visited with all of their grandchildren in California but it was hard for him and he rested more than he visited at each home.  Finally, my parents decided to come back to Minnesota despite his illness, but Mom, who does not drive ordinarily, did almost all the driving.  I saw my father, the first day that he returned, and I knew he was seriously ill.  When he finally agreed to go to the doctor, a few days later, I went with him to the Veteran's Clinic.  After few minutes, the doctor told my father that he was dying.  No tests needed.  Just a look.  A week and a half later, my father was gone.

An event like having a parent die, becomes a catalyst for change for many people, I suspect.  I don't think it is just me.  When I took time to reflect on my own life, I knew it was time to do something different.  I decided it was time to practice my profession in a different setting.

I have had kind of a personal mission for about the last fifteen years.  I remember the exact weekend that I suddenly felt compelled to try to make things better for children with autism.  I had seen a child with autism in a very unhappy situation and I saw that the people responsible for him, even the people who loved him, did not know what to do.  I had lots of ideas on how things could be better for him.  So, I set out to be a source of inspiration and practical knowledge, and to advocate with bulldog persistence on behalf of children with autism.  The clinic where I worked, The Scottish Rite Clinic for Childhood Language Disorders, supported me in every possible way.  I might have long since given up without that support.  Happily, the world of knowledge and skill related to autism has changed dramatically.  I think I helped to make this so, but plenty happened beyond my reach and influence.  There are still so many needs, of course.  There is no real end point on a mission like "making things better", but sitting next to my dad in what suddenly became our hospice living room, I reflected on the possibility that I had actually done what I set out to do.

So, I resigned from a job that I have loved at the beginning of the summer.  (I want you to know that that is really a hard thing to do.)  I took the summer off.  As fall begins, I will start a new job and see what else I can accomplish.  I am not finished with my service to children with autism, by any means.  I took a position in a school where there are many students who have this diagnosis.  But, I took a job as the school Speech Language Pathologist, not as an autism specialist.  I don't know yet if I will continue to write Autism Games blog posts.  It feels like I aught to either say goodbye here or say I will be back with more.  But, I really don't know.  So, that was my summer.


Beth Up North said...

Oh Tahirih, you are so inspirational on so many levels. Such a succinct and heartfelt post. I know transitioning is harder than you expressed. You are awesome, and don't forget it. I can't tell you how many times I have read, and re-read your web site, and blogs, and how many visits I looked forward to with you. Strangely enough tonight was my last night with the hospital, and tomorrow I start at my new school job in the autism field. Change is good. You succeeded admirably at your mission, your flag will be carried. Lots of love and best wishes to you, and sorrow for your loss. Beth

TJ said...

May your father's memory be eternal. Wherever you work, I know you'll change lives for the better. I've loved your posts here, but understand if continuing this blog doesn't fit with your new life. Thanks for all the inspiration, and best of luck with the new gig.

Tamara Pogin said...

Thank you Tahirih for all your enthusiasm and ideas that will continue to be carried out by families and therapists whom you have touched personally and through your website and blog.

It is so like you to want to wrap things up for everyone with a concrete answer of whether or not autismgames posts will continue. But is also like you to be honest and tell them that you're not sure yet.

Deb said...

I am so sorry about the loss of your dad, Tahirih. I know this may be the end of your blog as you begin a new chapter in your life. I wanted to say thank you so much for posting everything you have posted here. Your writing and video models have been invaluable as I work with my son, who has autism. Thanks also for taking the time to personally respond to some of my questions. I will not forget it! You have played a big role in giving me tools to help my son learn, play and grow. Thank you!!

Sue said...

Hi Tahirih,
By now you will be well and truly settled into your new choices : )
I will be giving up my role as an autism coach, in 10 weeks, to return back to a school leader in a Positive Behaviour Support.
I too will still have lot of kids with an ASD to wrk with but I am really looking forward to using my other Special Education skills and experience,s in a more general way.
For selfish reasons, I hope that you do continue to blog. if not though,I send my thanks for what you have already contributed ( so much) and prayers for a bright, creative and happy future : )

Nicole Cox said...

I just wanted to say, "THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU!" I just found your blog this last spring and have found so many insightful advice and engaging games to help our son. We would like to begin therapy with him but cannot afford to at this time, however your ideas and games are giving us a great start! I hope and pray that we can find someone like you to be our son's therapist. I can tell how much you truely care about each child in your videos.
I am sorry for the loss of your dad and hope that you are able to find healing as you continue to help and inspire others!
Thank you so much for what you have done here!

Paulene Angela said...

Dear Tahirih,

I feel with you for the departure of your father a pain that we are never prepared for, and I mention this from my own personal experience(1992), and today yes I still receive my father’s wisdom and guidance, I truly feel blessed.

Mysteriously we inherit this special strength for change, and somehow, someway, everything will be just fine, the time is right you are making the right change.

Thank you for sharing you knowledge and I wish the best, enjoy your journey, you are not alone.
Paulene x

Haritha said...

Hi thahirh mam,
I really regret that i didn't find your blog before.I am a student doing my 2nd year BASLP in India.Iam really interested in autism.i was amazed by seeing your blog.I should have found it before.please dear mam,come back with your new posts.

Jennifer Dodge said...

Looks like this post was from a year ago. I am sorry to hear about your loss, but I wonder if you found working in schools to be a good place to make a big difference? I work in schools as an OT and was just going to write you a thank you note for your website. I think a lot of people (including me, w/15 yrs of experience) struggle with just what to do with the lowest-functioning kiddos with autism in the school setting. Your beginner games are a huge help and give a frame of reference to come up with more activities on our own with the same aims in mind. Sometimes it's hard to let go of the IEP goals (he WILL write his name!!) and meet the child where he really is.
Thank you!!

Tahirih said...

Thank you for commenting. I have enjoyed my first year back in a school. It is a very different context for working with children on the Spectrum and I have wanted to write up some of the great games and activities that I used this last year--but have not done so yet and my summer off is almost over! The issue of how to write and carryout goals on an IEP that reflect a students real needs--this is a very big challenge. My professional growth goal for next year will be to get more and more astute about this process. Good luck to both of us on this!

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