About this Site
Hello, I am Jennifer Fletcher and I thought it might be helpful if I shared a little about myself and my reasons for starting this web site.
Autism has been a part of my life since I was young. My first experience with autism came from working with my sister. I remember puzzling over her language use. It seemed she had made up a language of her own and my family was always left guessing when she told jokes that none of us could understand then stood laughing at them alone. Then we faced the struggles of hour-long temper tantrums, refusal to wear certain clothes or shoes, not wanting to be strapped into a car seat, avoiding her peers in school and the multitude of other peculiar behaviors she displayed. I learned a lot working with my sister. Most importantly I learned patience.
Years later, I ran a home daycare where I cared for a young boy with Autism. While working with him I was able to broaden my knowledge of autism and begin developing techniques for dealing with autism spectrum behaviors. Then one morning, while I was brushing my 2 year-old daughter's hair, she started screaming that it hurt. She began screaming when I clipped her nails, gave her a bath, or brushed her teeth. She didn't want to be touched by me or anyone else; she wouldn't even allow anyone to help her get dressed. She walked around the house with a blanket wrapped around her and would only let me hold her if she was wrapped tightly in the blanket while I rocked her continuously. I felt frustration, embarrassment, and even anger toward strangers in stores and other public places who made negative comments about my parenting skills when my daughter was screaming in spite of my best efforts to calm her. Later my daughter was diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome and in the years since her two younger brothers have been diagnosed with Autism.
Thus began my quest into the peculiar world of autism spectrum disorders. I wanted to learn all I could about Autism and Asperger Syndrome so that I could help my own children. I searched through countless articles on the Internet, read books and bought magazines. I quickly became overwhelmed and frustrated. There was plenty of information to be found on what these diagnoses were and the symptoms to watch for, but nothing that did a good job explaining what I, as a parent, could do to help my children. Then I turned to others for support and found there were few who understood the difficulties I was going through. Fortunately, I have since had some wonderful opportunities and mentors who have helped me understand what I can do to help.
Now I am a Special Education teacher in a classroom for children with Autism and related behaviors. I have spent many years researching and trying out new ideas with my children and various students. I also recently completed my master's thesis on using picture books to teach emotions to children with autism which is an area where no previous research had been done. I have taught children within the Autism spectrum from pre-school age to sixth grade for over eight years. I also serve as an Autism Consultant for the district I work in and train new teachers.
I originally thought of creating a website as a resource for parents of the children in my classroom. Many of them have come to me for ideas and understanding and I had hoped that a web site would be beneficial to them. Then I began to get calls from parents who were not in my classroom but were seeking any help I could give them. When I started to get calls from out of state, I realized that perhaps this web site would be beneficial far beyond the relatively small group of parents and children I was working with.
I have partnered with my husband to make this website a reality. It is our mission with this site to provide practical, hands on ideas to help your children reach their potential in life while building a community of parents and teachers who can work to help and inspire each other. We will provide as much ready-made material as we can so that you can easily print and use them right away. We have included a forum where parents and teachers can talk to one another, get ideas, share stories and realize they are not alone.