Total Read Time: 5-10 minutes
That is what I had when I decided to take my first job out of SUNY Purchase College as a 1:1 aide for a child with severe autism in a Westchester, NY school district. I was a Liberal Studies major who had no clue what I wanted to do with my life. All I knew was at the moment, I wanted to coach football.
So, after a phone conversation with the school district’s Athletic Director, I was an assistant football coach for the high school…..and a 1:1 aide for a child with a disability I knew nothing about, nor at the time had had an interest in knowing more about. I was excited to begin my coaching career. I was fresh out of college after finishing an athletic career that included a walk on spot as a baseball player at Purchase and later transformed into starting the beginnings of a Men’s Lacrosse team, the first in the school’s history.
You see, I had been an athlete my entire life. I was a High School football and Lacrosse player, all the while, simultaneously spending late nights in a dance studio since I was six years old. I needed to be moving and now that I was no longer a player, I wanted to be coaching. To be doing it right out of college was exhilarating. In my mind at the time, all I had to do was follow a kid around during the day and then I would be back on a football field coaching the game I love in the afternoon. I was pumped!
But then the school year started.
I wasn’t just following a kid around. I was seeing him have meltdowns because they didn’t have chicken nuggets at the school cafeteria; or because the SMART board wasn’t working properly; or if time ran out before he could finish a certain activity. These meltdowns included screaming, yelling, flopping, hitting, kicking, etc. Often I was the target of the aggression. After the first couple incidents (Along with an annual salary of just $17,000 BEFORE taxes), coaching football was no longer appealing. By the time the day was over and I got to the field, I was still shaken that I couldn’t fully enjoy it. I was pretty sure quitting was on my horizon.
I began to interview with different companies. My dream was to get to ESPN where I had connections; But I had connections at companies like ADP and was also interviewing there. I made it to the final round at both places. It was time to pull the trigger on a new career.
I couldn’t do it.
There was something about this idea that here is a child I promised to look after, and I’m about to look for an easy way out. Does he get an easy way out? I couldn’t help but think about how unfair life was. Here is a child who couldn’t help that when things he expected to have happen, didn’t happen, he was overcome by extreme impulse to lash out in the only way he knew how because of his limited ability to communicate.
And to top it all off, none of that was his fault. He didn’t ask for that. And when he goes through those curve balls that life cruelly threw his way, he doesn’t get to “quit”. There is no ESPN option, or ADP. There is no “easy way out” of his Autism. There is only chicken nuggets, and whether or not he will get to have them today. And the unfairness of that made me feel like an over-privileged human. How could I have the audacity to take for granted my ability to adapt to stress and to have the ability to recognize options available to me to escape that stress?
I told ADP and ESPN thanks, but no thanks. I was going to stick this out. Over the next few months I would immerse myself in this world. I would go on to get a Masters degree in Special Education and seek Board Certification in Behavioral Analysis. After teaching in both Public and Private schools, I would continue to blaze new paths for these kids by co-founding a physical education company that really teaches the art of well being and fitness versus what adaptive PE is now. That company is BioKinetix Fitness Technology (You can visit that website here biokinetix.fitness. That company brought all kinds of joys but also provided the inspiration for what comes next, because in this community of special needs, there is no time for stopping.
I would come to meet and work with extraordinary people. Celebrity parents, single moms and dads, experts and people who just wanted to help. There were so many perspectives into how this community is viewed, worked with and cared for, there needed to be a place where everyone could see everyone else’s perspective.
And that is how we arrived at the Just Keep Moving Blog. A place for parents and experts and everyone else to come and get insight, information, stories and more to help them through their day, their life or even their practice. Here you will find blog posts, podcasts and videos. There will be interviews with experts, parents and others who can provide unique insight into how they live in this world. We will tell stories of experiences we have had and show videos of great things happening inside of the community.
As always, please email with any questions comments or suggested topics.
Just Keep Moving!