The World of Autism: Diagnosis Reveal

I remember it like it was an old sore and someone snatches off the scab! Thoughts of that day still pain me like it just happened. My gut was screaming. Something was not right despite my pediatrician saying everything will be ok – boys are slower than girls and he’ll talk when he’s ready. I thought: Who am I to question what I was being told? I mean; he is the doctor.  I couldn’t sleep the night before the diagnosis reveal. My brain was in overdrive. I felt relieved because I had been waiting for years, months, days – and now tomorrow for this appointment. I was terrified because I was afraid my motherly instincts would be confirmed. Finally, the attendant called my son’s name and we went to the back. I watched as several people came in and out observing my son then writing down notes and talking to each other. Everything they were saying sounded like the adults in a Charlie Brown cartoon. I knew they were speaking English, but I had no idea what they were saying or what it meant. Although they introduced themselves, I felt irrelevant – like they talked at me, not to me. They would ask me questions and then write something in their notes and then they went back to trying to [...]

2022-03-26T11:03:48-04:00April 1st, 2022|Intellectual disAbility|

Living in a Puzzling World with Infinite Possibilities

Every day I find myself working to grow within an environment that’s hard to understand socially – an environment where people sometimes have a hard time getting along with others. That difficulty is where I find the inspiration and realization that there’s so much more out there for me to understand. That one step was where I think I needed to begin. Learning how to discover myself from youth to adulthood gave me some ideas on where I am both personally and for the rest of the autism community. To anyone who thinks there isn’t much you can do – there is so much out there and so many unique paths for who you are. I remember having  negative thoughts connected with my “disability.” I wanted to achieve so much and, even now, I find it to be a challenge. Challenges are what makes one grow and feel the need to be themselves. I have one goal: To inspire independence among the autism spectrum disorder community. It takes time for people to be their best selves in a world where there’s so much to do. I am a self-advocate and I feel determined to move and to motivate the ASD community. I thought of the title “living in a puzzling world with infinite possibilities” because I thought it would be [...]

2022-03-29T14:14:21-04:00April 1st, 2022|Intellectual disAbility|

Intellectual disAbility Month

Since the moment our nation declared independence, the words “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” have represented our freedom. These rights are said to be inalienable and for all. However, it wasn’t until 1990 that individuals with lived experience of disability were included and protected federally by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Before this, those who lived with disabilities were often cast aside, ignored, hidden, and disrespected. The unfortunate reality is that, sometimes, this still happens. Thankfully, there are hard workers committed to changing this. Before we get to that, though, let's talk stats: In the United States, about 6.5 million people experience intellectual disability, according to the Census Bureau. Here in Philadelphia, 16 percent of residents live with emotional, intellectual, and/or physical disabilities.  As of 2016, Philadelphia had the greatest population of people with disabilities among the largest U.S. cities (Pew Charitable Trusts). According to Pew, 22 percent of people living in poverty in Philadelphia were also disabled as of 2016. Individuals with disabilities must not be cast aside. We work with them, we pass them on the street, we sit next to them on the bus, we love them, we celebrate them. This is why the work of the City of Philadelphia Department of Behavioral Health and Intellectual disAbility Services’ Division of Intellectual disAbility Services, as [...]

2022-03-14T21:49:22-04:00March 14th, 2022|Intellectual disAbility|

Mental Health Services for People with Developmental Disabilities

It’s June 19, 2013, my first day as a behavior and sexuality support professional. I’m handed a caseload of over 30 people with developmental disabilities and mental health diagnoses.  All of them had a psychiatrist who prescribed psychotropic medications; however, none of them were working with a therapist. How were they ever going to get off these high doses of psychotropic medications without working with someone on the underlying mental health challenges?  Obviously, this was a fluke or caseload oversight…right?  Sadly, over the next few weeks, I learned about the severe lack of mental health professionals (MHPs) providing support to clients with developmental disabilities. Some struggles – such as insurance coverage limitations and numbers of certain types of specialists in an area – were shared by everyone seeking support.  The biggest challenge for people with developmental disabilities was finding MHPs trained in adaptations for people with developmental disabilities. Fast forward to 2022. While COVID significantly impacted all of us, we’ve had the opportunity to reflect on what truly matters and create new capacities for the most important resources. While some delighted in having a favorite snack delivered to their doorstep at 2 a.m., it was remotely offered mental health services that had me singing with joy like a character in an animated movie. Finally, a step toward increased accessibility of [...]

2022-03-11T09:23:55-05:00March 10th, 2022|Intellectual disAbility|
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