So I did this fun thing recently, I was asked by a friend to take my 1 year old daughter little miss A to a continuing education conference session. This conference was for professionals who need to earn points to keep their licenses current. To put it lightly it was a whole lot more than I expected.
The reason I was asked was because I have experience on 2 different fronts of dealing with early intervention. I have worked with early intervention for my autistic son mr. L for years and now my daughter has in home sessions to help with her speech delay.
I thought we would go and help with a presentation for 10-15 min and then I would be a part of a panel at the end to help answer questions… hahaha 😂 Nope! Little miss A and I were the presentation! The whole session was centered around us with a full blown up picture of us as part of the slide show 🤣 Oh and I pictured in my mind like 25-30 people in the audience, not like 100!
No worries. I had a lot of fun and I learned more about myself. I learned that I am confident in speaking in front of huge crowds when I’m being an advocate and teacher about autism. I am a specialist when it comes to being on the receiving end of what early intervention should look like. I also can tell others what it’s not supposed to be.
So when it got started my friend introduced us, talked about my background history and then she started asking people from the audience to come up and practice on me and little miss A. They practiced questions they should ask “the parent” and they played with my daughter trying to practice “speech therapy play”. This was all fine and my daughter didn’t even mind as long as I was smiling and encouraging her.
But then they asked me to evaluate the people who had volunteered to come up and I first thought whoa! Whoa! I am not the professional here! I don’t have a degree in any of this stuff. I mean my college studies were in elementary education but not in ABA therapy or in social work! I felt surprised they wanted me to critique them! Especially in front of everyone. But then I realized I have plenty of experience to bring to the table.￼
I know how I want to be treated; to feel encouraged to continue the programs these professionals come up with for my children and what I want to hear to feel empowered to be the mom I know my children need.
I was able to answer questions of how the volunteers could have interacted better with me as the parent and what I liked that they tried to do with little miss A. But after these practices were done my friend told the audience that I would be happy to do a Q&A *Gulp!* Oh right! I was the specialist on receiving at home care and early intervention for my children. That was why I was asked to go.
But then little miss A in perfect baby timed fashion decided she needed my mic that was hooked to my shirt and the part that was in my pocket. So I handed my mic over to my friend and asked if it was ok to walk down the isle and just project my voice instead of fighting with my toddler in front of everyone. My friend seemed surprised but told me sure! If I felt comfortable with that 🙂 It was easier then playing mic tag with a tired toddler, or so I thought…
By this point little miss A was getting emotionally and physically tired, she wanted comfort and needed to be on my hip. More than that though she wanted the comfort of nursing. Sorry mam, I’ll nurse you in public, I’ll nurse you in church, I’ve even nursed you during IEP meetings to keep the peace, but I wasn’t going to juggle you trying to nurse while all eyes and ears are on me in a crowd of 100 people. So she stuck her hand down my shirt and used me as a stress ball 🙄
Not the best compromise but the audience didn’t mind and actually laughed when I made a joke about it, after all the show must go on… After the Q&A I sat down to nurse my little one while people came up afterwards with more questions. Obviously I was in the right place to feed my babe because everyone seemed completely unfazed by it.
Honestly the whole thing was fun, my friend was super sweet, I was happy to help her, to visit with her, to teach, to advocate and I would be more than happy to do something like it again!
Have you ever helped with a special education training? Have you ever stumbled into an unexpected experience like this? What did you do? Let me know in the comments below 😜
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