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School is here, whether we are ready or not. While some are preparing with back to school shopping, I’m preparing by changing around my afternoon schedules (everyone seems to want speech therapy 3:30 on Wednesday afternoon, haha) and watching Netflix.

Today’s newest suggestion was Atypical, a new show centered around the lives of a teenager on the Autism Spectrum and his family. I won’t give spoilers or go into details - you can form your own opinions, but I’m quickly reminded how people’s perception of Autism can be on point and yet so off the mark at the same time. On one hand, the perseveration of preferred topics, sensory sensitivities, and repetitive motor movements bring to mind a few faces of kiddos that I have worked with before. On the other hand, the show misses the mark on the portrayal of those who raise and work with kids on spectrum.

One of the first things I “figured out” when I started working with kids on the spectrum was that they respond positively to routine and structure, but all kids with special needs go through seasons of highs and lows, successes and regressions; the best parents and the strictest routines can’t predict when a meltdown occurs or communication becomes lost. As parents, therapists, and advocates, we learn quickly to be flexible because needs change from one minute to the next, an aspect which is easily overlooked by who aren’t involved in these kids’ lives daily. It can be tough when time and efforts don’t seem to be noticed or valued by friends, family, and even Netflix television shows. But remember, the most important people will notice and appreciate your time and efforts- especially your exceptional kiddos (though they may not use so many words). Never forget parents that you’re tough, you’re amazing, and you’re not alone.

I fully believe the African Proverb that states: “It takes a village to raise a child.” I’m grateful that so many parents allow me to be a part of their village.

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