By Bridget Palmer
I am a speech language pathologist in the Buffalo Niagara region. For the past 18 years I have had the extraordinary opportunity to find joy and hope in the interactions I have with children on the autism spectrum.
I provide speech language therapy for children in their homes with their parents and caregivers and at their daycares and preschools. These children have made me the speech language therapist that I am today.
Children on the autism spectrum and their families have taught me more than I have taught them. They have taught me to recognize the gleam in their eyes. They have taught me nothing feels better than being understood. They have taught me that I can challenge them because we are in this together. They have taught me that you can have a beautiful and meaningful conversation with words (verbal communication) as well as without words (nonverbal communication).
The children I work with have also taught me that all behavior is communication and that I must ask myself what a child’s actions are telling me. They have shown me that affect and emotion are essential to relating and communicating, and that all learning stems from a strong emotional relationship. They have taught me that I have good ideas, but that when given the chance they have great ideas, too. They have taught me that children on the autism spectrum are warm, loving, fun, creative, great kids.
All children come with parents and the parents have also taught me so much. The parents have taught me that I may be an expert on communication development, but that they are the experts when it comes to their child. They have taught me that they, too, can recognize the gleam in their child’s eye. They have taught me that we are in this process together and that we can challenge each other. They have taught me that they are insightful, creative, compassionate, caring, and resilient. They have taught me that we make an amazing team.
Everyday children on the autism spectrum and their families bring me joy and hope as we strive to connect and go for the gleam in the eye and build therapeutic relationships.
To learn more about autism spectrum disorder please visit icdl.com and profectum.org.
About the Author:
Bridget Palmer is a Speech-Language Pathologist who specializes in intervention for children with communication, regulatory, and sensory challenges, including children on the autism spectrum. She is the autism team leader at Liberty POST, Amherst, NY and the DIR Floortime mentor at Buffalo Hearing & Speech Center, Buffalo, NY. She lectures on DIR Floortime and its role in ASD treatment. Contact Bridget at email@example.com.