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That First Step

One foot in frontBy Cathy Jameson

Last week was a roller coaster of a week.  Lots of good things happened, but a lot of other things were overwhelming, time consuming and also challenging.  I was feeling the weight of the world on my achy shoulder both at home and at work.  I can be myself at home anytime I want, including feeling completely overwhelmed. 

Other places, I remain professional.   

That had me taking necessary steps to push through some iffy moments.  Emotions certainly creep in when I’m out of the house, but I stay as focused as possible when I’m with other people, especially those with whom I work.  Behind closed doors, though?  Well, that’s another story. 

Emotions run high. 

Tears are shed. 

And words like defeated and frustrated are said. 

Not one to wallow for too long, I get through the defeat, the frustration, and dry the tears.  I pick up the pieces, and I face the challenge, whatever it may be.  Once I do that, I can focus on other projects.  I had two to work on for two families that I’d had to put aside.  Those were on my To-Do list for weeks, but other things kept popping up – things I absolutely could not put on hold. 

On Friday afternoon, I finally got to dedicate two hours to these two families.  These families were not taking their first steps to helping their children.  Those steps were taken several months ago and when they faced what many of us have had to face – reality that some “thing” was starting to hold their children back. 

I’m incredibly proud of these families for knowing that they made that call that got them those appointments that made them so nervous but got them those services that began their journey to early childhood intervention.  It was ‘total flashback’ for me hearing them share those first steps.  Some of what they’ve done mimics what I had to do for my son almost 20 years ago.  Some of it is still not easy, including handling the emotions that come with admitting an issue does exist.  With similar stories, I could step in and encourage their efforts.  I applauded them for listening to their instinct.  And I shared a promise to remain right there next to them when things get tough.  I spoke not just as an educator to these parents but as a fellow parent of a child with special needs.  I don’t always say that right away, but when the timing is right, I will tell a tearful mom and a worried dad that I know exactly what they are going through—because I, too, have walked a similar path. 

With summer days upon us, I gathered items late on Friday afternoon that will prayerfully help these First stepyoung children.  In their individual care packages are activities that support literacy, manipulatives that promote number sense, sensory-friendly material, and games that encourage turn taking and fine-motor skill building.  The kids will think they are just playing with toys, but to mom and dad, these items represent hope. 

Hope that their child will retain what they’ve learned. 

Hope that their child will not slip through the cracks before returning to an educational setting. 

Hope that they can carry out goals their child’s teacher and team had.

I’m excited and also humbled to be the one who can step in and give ideas and provide care packages and share resources.  I do that so as to encourage a young family to be able to take the next step forward.  Even if it’s only a tiny step.  That’s all it takes to keep some hope alive. 

Cathy Jameson is a Contributing Editor for Age of Autism.


Gerardo Martinez

Good morning to all! My computer glitched. I thought I posted on Sunday, but didn't go through. Agree so much with mamma bear. You are helping so many people on this tough but loved filled journey. Glad you are helping those families. The first few years are the hardest! So many dreams busted, so much heart pain. The realization of what happened to my child can be a bit overwhelming. Glad you are their as a beacon of light and guidance. Keep up the important and great work!
G. Martinez


Cathy, if ever you wondered what is the meaning of your life, it's this. To be the heart of your family, the strong partner to your husband, the model to your kids (especially your daughters), the shield & advocate to your son
And oh yeah ... the rescuer to those on the journey.
God bless you always with the grace you need to accomplish the mission for which you were created!

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