March is Women’s History Month. Every woman has a history. Each woman comes into this world with skills and ideas, hopes and dreams. This month I will be paying attention to the histories of the women I know. I will spend time learning about women I don’t know and try to understand their stories. I know that those histories will affect my own. I am honored to share a little of my story here.
As most women do, I wear many hats. I am an artist, a wife, a daughter, and a mother of two very wonderful people. I am also the art studio coordinator at JSDD’s WAE Center.
When my son was 2 years old, he was diagnosed with Autism. My story took a very major turn. I left the world of New York advertising and became my son’s first teacher in a very specific way. He and I attended a parent child special needs program. I was in the classroom with him for two years. I worked side by side with the special education teachers, the speech therapists and family therapists. To say I learned a lot is an understatement! When my son graduated it was time for him to go off to school on his own. Life changed again.
Our wonderful daughter was born, and she completed our family. While she was in preschool, I had an opportunity to work in the neurotypical nursery school that she attended. In that environment I gained the experience of working with typical kids, and my experience in the special ed classroom gave me quite an edge in dealing with many of the difficulties that all children have. Eventually to my most humble surprise, I was offered a position in the same special education preschool that my son had attended. This was the beginning of almost a dozen years of learning from the best educators in the field. These individuals, all women, are part of my support team and my mentors to this day.
Change comes again.
In 2019, I joined the team at JSDD’s WAE Center. This came at a perfect time in my life, when my son began attending an adult a day program himself. From the very first meeting at the WAE Center, I knew that it would be my new home.
Working with the members has refocused me in a very particular way. Each day the members teach me about how to treat my own family. Each day the staff shows me how to run an exceptional program for individuals with disabilities. Throughout the day when I assist and encourage artists with their individual goals, marveling at the work that they create, I know I am blessed.
With the focus on Women’s History Month, I am paying specific attention to the women we work with. I see them using their talents and learning how to express themselves through the visual arts. These women are developing the skills and confidence to tell their stories. The power of women’s voices has always been important in creating inclusive societies. I am so glad to be included in their process.