My earliest awareness of the concept of disability came when I was about 8 years old and my favorite aunt contracted a severe case of rubella (german measles), when she about twenty (20) weeks pregnant. I remember over hearing conversations about whether or not the baby would have been able to survive
the treatments. However, 18 weeks later my cousin Dexter was born.He failed the hearing screening at birth. He was deaf and mute and exhibited numerous sensory challenges. Dexter was years later diagnosed with autism. My aunt was devastated. I watched her cry bitterly over time as she battled the guilt of ‘causing’ her son to be disabled.
It was there that my empathy for the parents of the children with special needs was birthed. I became immediately aware of the anguish that parents of children with disabilities experience. This early experience contributed significantly to the shaping my approach to my work as a school psychologist. The children that I deal with as a professional become my children. I share in their families’ pain. I saw how my aunt felt helpless and hopeless about her son’s future and I desired to offer other parents hope. I didn’t know it then, but I wanted to be an educational psychologist and autism specialist.