What drew you to the Child Neurology Foundation and its mission? How do you see yourself contributing to the foundation’s ability to provide support for communities?
The Child Neurology Foundation shares my same mission of helping all children reach their fullest potential. As long as I can remember, I have always wanted to help children and families. I see myself helping the child neurology community by providing wonderful educational opportunities for caregivers and service providers as well as helping families get connected to social services and emotional support through our Family Support Program.
Can you describe your experience in working with families and children with varying needs?
I personally have two children with varying needs. Abby is 7 and has polymicrogyria and schizencephaly, categorized under the cerebral palsy umbrella. Adabelle is 10 and has ADHD and anxiety. Being a mother to two children with special needs has taught me more than any textbook could ever teach me. I also taught for 16 years in special education and general education. I have supported families who have children with special needs for many years and love to help families advocate for their children. In addition, I serve on two different clinical trials aimed at helping children with cerebral palsy through pediatric rehabilitation.
How have you utilized your background in Early Childhood Education and Early Childhood Special Education to support families and children?
Early intervention is extremely important. In my professional and personal experience, I have seen how early identification and intervention have made a huge impact on the trajectory of a child’s life. When a young family comes to me and suspects that something isn’t quite right, I stay curious and ask questions. Parents know their children the best, and I am a tool they can utilize to help them along the way. I use my knowledge gained from early teaching experiences and as a mother of children with special needs to help families in their own journey.
How do you ensure that family centeredness is prioritized in your work? Can you provide examples?
Families are always at the center of what I do. I like to think of everything I do from the lens of a parent and the whole family unit. While one family member may have a neurologic condition, the whole family is undoubtedly impacted. Everyone needs support. When building our family support courses, I always think of the whole family. Part of our course talks about sibling impact and how we can support siblings in the family unit. We also focus on the mental health of the entire family by engaging in self-care. A healthy family is one in which all members are taken care of physically and emotionally.
What strategies do you use to ensure that materials and resources are sensitive and respectful to the diverse needs of families and children?
I always love to ask families directly what they need. I don’t create material and then think about the family. I ask the family what they need and then create materials that will support them. We are always asking for feedback on our courses and really take it to heart. We want to make sure that every family feels heard and feels like their time is respected when they take our courses.
In your opinion, what is the importance of adaptability in the work of organizations like CNF? How have you demonstrated adaptability in your previous roles?
Our ability to adapt to our patients’ needs is what makes us stand out at CNF. The needs of our families are always changing, and we have to be in tune with these changes. This is why we conduct surveys and ask families about their lives. When we are able to adapt and change, we can support in the right areas. Being able to adapt also means being collaborative.