The last entry to our blog in 2013 is from Stephanie Carroll. It has been a wonderful experience working with such a talented individual.
When Doug first asked me to write a blog post and left the topic open ended, I had a hard time figuring out exactly what I was going to say. Then I decided I wanted to reflect on my experiences as a coach and what being a part of Autism Personal Coach has meant to me- with hopes that the readers of this blog are nodding their heads in agreement as they continue reading below.
I was hired by Doug to be a personal coach in August of this year. I had recently quit my 7 year long job as a special education teacher and had been scouring the internet for job postings. During one of my searches I stumbled across Doug’s website and was very inspired by what I read and discovered about APC. I quickly discovered an organization that is devoted to making a difference in the lives of those with autism where it really matters. I loved the idea of a personal coach to help individuals reach their goals. And who in life doesn’t need a personal coach at some point or another? I know there are times where I could definitely benefit from one!
As a teacher you always hear the words ‘differentiate’ and ‘individualize’ instruction so that you are meeting the needs of every student you teach. You also hear the word ‘generalize’ so that your students apply what they are learning to environments outside of the classroom. And as much as I tried to do this for my unique set of learners, I always felt that I came up short. That is why the concept behind APC quickly drew me in. It accomplishes all of those goals at once. We create individualized programs to meet the needs of each client we work with. And the amazing thing about APC is that it takes the curriculum to the learner. When I was teaching I was constantly trying to come up with creative and innovative ways to bring the real world to the classroom. The greatness behind APC is that so many aspects of an individual’s daily life turn into learning experiences and hands on lessons. Instead of learning about budgeting on a worksheet in a classroom, I am working 1:1 with clients on their personal budgets based upon their salaries and expenses. Instead of teaching individuals about the importance of exercise, we are doing it together! So many of my students learned these skills in isolation but had a hard time applying it to their lives. This solves that problem.
I also love that APC is not just about coaching. It is so much more. In addition to working 1:1 with clients on their goals that can range from practicing driving to gain more independence to finding a job, APC also offers services to support many other aspects of an individual’s life. There are support groups where individuals can meet new people, share their concerns, thoughts, and truly feel accepted and understood. We organize social outings so people have an opportunity to practice their social skills in various settings and make new friends. We have adult panels with individuals with autism speaking about very personal experiences to educate the community and spread awareness. We offer housing workshops to help families create individualized housing options. Our next event is an art contest because we found out that so many of our clients have amazing artistic talents that we believe should be showcased and shared with the world. As you can see, I find all of these events very meaningful!
When I first applied to be a coach I felt like I brought a good skill set to the position. Not only was I a special education teacher, I also have a brother with down syndrome and a sister with down syndrome and autism. I thought that my background would provide me with the skills needed to be a successful coach. While I do believe that my background has helped in my current position, I quickly realized that there is so much I have to learn! Each client I work with challenges me to think in ways I never have before. I have tried to successfully coach them, I have also been coached by Doug at the same time. Working alongside Doug for these past few months has been a huge learning experience and I am so appreciative of all that I have gained. I have also learned from the clients themselves. I have met some amazing individuals who all have wonderful gifts to share with the world. I feel very fortunate for these experiences and look forward to what the future may bring!