“When my twin girls, Paula and Andrea, were 4 months old, I had no concerns in terms of their development. I believe that was based on the fact I was a first-time mother. I had no one to compare them with and therefore I was unable to realize any challenges at the time. Basically, everything was going as expected.
When the twins were about 18 months, I began to realize they were delayed in walking, speaking, crawling, etc. When I expressed my concerns to the pediatrician, he explained because they were twins, it was somehow expected it would take them longer to learn certain skills.
It wasn’t until the girls were 2 years old and began to go to daycare that things started to become more clear for us. As the girls started to be around other children, we were able to observe and discover more of these challenges. I began to realize many things I felt were missing in their development. The professionals at the daycare began to detect some red flags about their behavior and share their feedback about it. They suggested I take them for a diagnosis with a psychologist. I remember feeling very confused at the time, and today I can admit I was in a lot of denial for a while.
I remember I almost forced myself to do it. Like any other mom, I would do anything for my children, which in this case was putting any feelings aside and putting myself through any process, even when it felt unnecessary at the time. To this day, I have come to understand and respect those feelings fully. I want parents that might be reading these words right now to know no one can dictate how you are supposed to feel in this kind of situation. This is your life and your child’s and it may take you some time to realize and take action; that does not determine how good of a parent you are, especially in a world that is just beginning to have more information about special needs.
It was definitely a challenge receiving the diagnosis of autism for the girls. At the time, I did not know what it was or what it entailed. As much as you hear stories, you never really go deep in the concept until it becomes part of your life. So, I just googled it; plain and simple, I started researching it. However, I remember feeling even more anxious and confused after seeing everything that popped up was the ‘bad things,’ the challenges, the ‘never will be able’ sentences and all the concepts that stressed the world ‘inability.’ There is no way you can truly take action if you don’t learn about the history of it. I really encourage parents to not only stay with that kind of information, but to go deep into what can be done from that point moving forward – the alternatives and options you may have access to and start from there. It is difficult not to think about the future, but realistically, for your child’s benefit the most important thing is to go one step at a time. Like in any other area of your life, you will get much more done that way.
Still after much denial, I decided to start the girls in ABA Therapy, which was the first suggestion from professionals. There were many accomplishments with it and I’m very thankful with the amount of things I learned with this type of therapy. However, I felt there was a much bigger world of opportunities for my daughters if I opened myself to other therapies, so I tried a holistic approach for them.
Once I took action and made sure to really educate myself and put my mindset into looking for solutions, I began to feel I was completely leaving the denial behind and started seeing the positive changes in my daughters. I believe this whole process of accommodating your life when having a child with autism has a lot to do with the parent mindset. It is teamwork. My daughters needed me to believe in their potential, in what they had to offer at the specific moment of their lives, and to look and find ways to help them learn and improve within the challenges they had at the time. Once again, focusing on the present, in their needs and in their strengths as well. Because the only way to improve and get farther is by truly knowing where we are standing, accepting it and believing there is more to conquer.
Based on the need of providing different therapies for my daughters, the idea of a learning centre for children with autism was born. In 2014, I created The Crystal Ladder Learning Centre for Autism. My main vision was to have a center where parents had access to everything available. To have a space where I could share my experience and where I could help children and families create a support system. Nowadays, The Crystal Ladder is dedicated to bringing many types of therapies for the community, all of which my family has tried firsthand and saw real benefits in. We have two locations in the province of Ontario, Canada.
We also have a third location called The Crystal Ladder Farm which is mainly dedicated to horse therapy, a place where children build a relationship with horses and get many benefits from it. This is also a place that becomes one of our Summer Camp locations during the summer, where our children have the opportunity to enjoy a full day program full of fun activities.
I dedicated myself to studying and developing a circuit where children do not have to register for a specific service, but once they enter the center they are exposed to all of them. I, in particular, am in charge of the Neurofeedback Brain Training program. This is a program I saw amazing results from and that benefits not only children, but anybody in the family who might need it. I believe in it 100%. I conduct and oversee this program in all of our locations. Today, we have created 3 more locations for Neurofeedback Brain Training specifically, one in Miami as Crystal Paths, one in Venezuela as Brain Training Venezuela, and one in Panama as Crystal Ladder PTY.
Day after day, I am proud to see not only what my daughters have achieved, but the 150 families who have received services across all locations. I feel an immense joy when I reflect on the life mission I discovered; my job is to change the lives of families around me by creating a path for our children, a path that later becomes a future. At the end of the day, it is all about providing a way for them to learn and then start witnessing the wonderful things they can do with it. It is undoubtedly a very great responsibility, but one that makes me feel happier every day.”
This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Mariella Mongiovi of Canada. Follow her journey on Instagram, YouTube, and her website. Do you have a similar experience? We’d like to hear your important journey. Submit your own story here. Be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories, and YouTube for our best videos.
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