When I was a little girl, I never expected to parent a child with autism. I didn’t even know the meaning of autism. This path was not a life long dream. I wanted to be married and have kids, and initially, I wanted to be a teacher like my Mom and one of my junior high math teachers, who always incorporated fun in learning. In Mrs. Chubbs’ class there was never a dull moment. I loved seeing how she used her family gems & stories of her past to illustrate a measurement, a property or the relationship between two numbers. I looked forward to her class, frankly because all the others were pretty much a bore. But the taste of teaching was slowly removed from my mouth after watching the smiles of teachers disappear, sick days adding up and the passion of instruction & imparting lessons to prepare their students for the world started turning sour. For whatever the reason, the benefits didn’t outweigh the depletion in their eyes and the weariness in their step. The love for education and seeing potentials & growths seem to be replaced by the mundane. I dare not declare that this is the description of every teacher. My sons have had great ones, but some of the ones, that I have had, appear to fit this mold. Anyway, teaching left my vocabulary. . . .so I thought. My first year in college, my major was Speech Pathology. And let me interject how ironic all this is. You never know how past learnings will come back to assist you with the unknown and in my case — autism. I dropped that idea because I didn’t feel I could complete the courses, and even more so, after visiting people with speech impediments, I really didn’t feel I could adequately be the help these special individuals needed. My first two years in college were a flop, but I soon got my head on straight and drifted into the business world. I fell in love with Human Resources and made my commitment there. However, my life was a still a roller coaster. My heart and mind was filled with water from the river of damage goods. Even after graduation and working full-time, I didn’t feel like I was worth very much. I didn’t believe I had accomplished anything. So, I began praying for more. Praying to make a difference. Praying that when people see me, they would see beyond my name and see that my life meant something. I believe God heard me but I also believe His plan was way in motion before I even thought to pray this prayer. I started understanding how purpose comes into play. It exceeds my imagination how He took my pain and transformed it into strength. It is unbelievably interesting how He allows your background to set you up for your future. Somehow all has defined me and has enabled me to have the resilient drive to take autism head on. . . .to help my son and have the desire to help others like him – be more. So, I am convinced that if I can overcome the worst of me that has in many ways prepared the better of me, surely I can walk hand and hand with my son pushing through obstacles that seem too big to conquer. I would tell any parent that this journey is not a walk in the park. Quite honestly, it has been a long, hard road. There are times, I just want to walk, pick daisies and have “Somewhere Over The Rainbow” play like an orchestra just for my hearing. Nevertheless, being grateful for lessons learned & who I have become. . . .and more importantly, one look at Callie and his accomplishments and his potential has me steady on this coarse, expecting, hoping and praying for more progress to come.