When Ben came to us and said:
"I want my job to be a full-time speaker!"
We were not sure how it would play out.
We were thrilled that Ben had a gift and passion for sharing his story, and at that time, were finding the traditional job market was not panning out the way we thought it would. We decided, as a family, to move ahead and see how we could support this dream.
In God's providence, Ben's brother Dan was a point in his life where he had been researching and planning to start a company and so we came together as a family and started Benergy 1 Presentations.
Since it's inception in 2021, Ben has had the privilege of speaking at over 150 locations to share his message of autism awareness, inclusion and kindness. He has been wildly received by all age groups from elementary schools to retirement centers and large corporations. Everyone expressed how they were "Benergized" and walked away in a better place to persevere thorough their own issues and "Be the One" in someone else's life.
We have heard over and over:
"That was the best assembly we have ever had"
and even heard parents, of student's who heard Ben at their school, tell us
"My child never tells me anything about their day but they can't stop talking about Ben!".
For me, my full circle moment was this past week when Ben presented his message at Easter Seals in Hatfield, the very location where he started his educational journey at the age of 2 1/2.
If you had told that stressed out mama in the year 2000 that this very child would be back here 23 years later telling his story and encouraging the staff she would have never believed you.
In 2000 Ben only knew 20 words, all nouns and all names of food. He never said 2 words together, never said anyone's name and was prone to tantrums at the drop of the hat when he couldn't get us to understand what he wanted. These were long dark days in our journey and we will forever be grateful for the amazing professionals that helped us understand Ben's needs, how to work with and shape his behavior and unlock his speech.
To see Ben as a grown man giving back and encouraging the very staff that helped him become who he is today will always be a stand out moment for me in this journey.
Another organization that was key to Ben's growth and success was the IU 23 (Intermediate Unit of Montgomery County). Before Ben's diagnosis, I had never heard of the IU. One day at work, I met a wonderful speech therapist who, after hearing my concerns about Ben, directed me to reach out to the IU. They sent a team of incredible professionals who evaluate Ben and recommended placement in the Easter Seal program where he started to thrive and learn. Another stand out moment for me of the journey we were taking and the people God used to direct our steps.
Today, Ben was the closing Keynote speaker for the Pennsylvania Association of Intermediate Units, where the leaders of the Intermediate Units from around the state meet annually. I truly can't describe the feeling of amazement seeing how God knit everything together in Ben's life. Today's session ended with a standing ovation!
If you would like to know more about the story of Ben's journey, check out our book
“Swinging from the Chandelier: Finding Joy in the Journey Through Autism"
where there is story after story of the hard things Ben overcame, the funny things that happened, the joy he brought to the journey and the amazing people that helped us along the way.
Thank you Easter Seals and IU 23 for being there right from the beginning and supporting this tired, stressed mama at the start of her journey. Thank you for your encouraging words, seeing the amazing man that Ben has become and supporting him now in his chosen vocation.