This program idea really started with a thesis.
The thesis itself was the result of years of observation, of talking to parents, siblings, workers, and autistic children and teens. It was the product of an emerging gap in the autism world, and in the world in general.
My private practice is called SPARC, which is also the name of this blog. It stands for Seeking Purpose And Releasing Creativity. In my 8 years working in the mental health field with youth, I have noticed that most approaches focus on the negative traits and correcting behavior. This is very much needed, but I saw a gap in services. There was little to nothing that really focused on what the children and young adults have as far as gifts. Working alongside school systems, I began to notice that schools were having a difficult time addressing this as well.
Among the greatest impacted by this problem-focused mindset were those with special needs, like those on the autism spectrum. There are plenty of programs for those who need more intense services, and they are extremely beneficial, but what about the ones who have some fledgling social skills and seemingly random gifts of talent that no one really knows what to do with? I’m thinking about the 10 year old who can solve college level math in his head, the 5 year old who can hear a piece of music once and play it perfectly every time thereafter, and the 15 year old who has memorized an entire train system schedule. These are gifts that can actually lead to life purposes, to a sense of belonging for a population who we have barely begun to understand. I also began to realize that everyone could benefit from uncovering their areas of intelligence, their “divine gifts” in the form of variations of creativity and expression.
I really enjoy this aspect of my work, knowing that in finding my path, I can help others do the same!