Ben had the honor of being the closing keynote speaker at the Lehigh Carbon Community College (LCCC) resource fair. Hundreds of students and educators came to see what resources are available in the community and we met some wonderful people along the way.
I was struck as I looked around the room at the other providers at the event. We had been the recipient of so many of their services along Ben's journey.
Our journey started with Easter Seals when they were the first ones to come to our home to perform the initial assessment. I was so focused on Ben's lack of speech that I missed so many other deficits in other areas of development. Ben and I went to Easter Seals together for the Step Up 2 program 2 1/2. I loved being surrounded by professionals that could help me understand and work with my son. When he turned 3 he rode a bus by himself to the program and was able to go without me.
I will never forget the amazing staff and especially Miss Marge who hugged me through one of the most difficult chapters of Ben's development. She is also the one who said to me
"None of the decisions you are making are fatal. Make the best decision you can with the information you have and if it is not the best fit you can always make another decision!'
That was so freeing for me as I fretted over ever decision I had to make about Ben's services.
We also still stay in touch with John who was one of the amazing staff there as well. Miss Tina, his case manager turned out to be his teacher several years later and we will always be grateful for the head start they gave Ben in his development.
Another table in the same room was Special Olympics. Ben loved playing basketball through his teen years at the North Penn YMCA and I loved going to hang out and talk with the mom's of so many who were ahead of us on our journey. One night they were talking about their supports coordinators and I said:
"What is a supports coordinator, why don't I have one and where do I get one?"
There is no reason every parent should have to reinvent the wheel and sharing programs and resources with others was so helpful to us. We now want to be that for others on their journey. There is a great tab on our website where you can find resources of all kinds.
Another amazing program was OVR or the Office of Vocational Rehabilitation. They provided job training and coaching as well as drivers training for Ben. Ben likes to tell people "They had a brake on their side of the car which was amazing!" It took Ben 3 years to earn his drivers license but it was life changing for me who was always "Uber mommy" when Ben wanted to go somewhere and he wanted to go a lot!
The last program in our room (but certainly not the last program to help us on our way) was The Arc and we are grateful for all of their guidance in Ben's adult years.
It was such a profound experience to look around the room at LCCC at all of these wonderful organizations and see how many we instrumental in Ben's development and success. The other wow factor was that we were there as well, at our own table, representing Ben's dream to be a full time public speaker.
From the bottom of my heart, thank you to everyone out there making a difference in someone else's life!
Love you more,