Contestant's Case to Win
This is based on the number of votes received.
When I left my public school teaching job in 2000 to stay home with my infant son I had no idea I was embarking on a major adventure. While I loved staying home with my young son, I also felt called to use my skills to continue impacting the lives of children with autism and their families. It was no coincidence that the very day I quit my teaching job a colleague of mine called to ask if I was interested in doing some consultation in a rural school district. That was the start of my business, although I didnâ€™t recognize it as such at the time.
What began as a very part-time one-woman operation providing consultation for a few districts quickly turned into more consulting work than I could handle. Add another baby boy and completing a Masterâ€™s Degree into the mix, and those were some busy years! By the summer of 2003 I was 6 months pregnant with my third son and determined to provide a program for children with autism who lacked opportunities in the summer months. My husband quickly renovated the basement of our home to provide a space for the program, and within a few weeks we were full. With the help of a colleague I ran my first summer program for 15 children.
My business was clearly succeeding and I loved the work I was doing. I began to branch out to provide more family-based services, and enjoyed it immensely. We moved our programs out of my basement and into a small building five minutes away. The next year my husband and I decided that I would work full-time and he would stay home with our three boys. We planned to try it for a year, and all these years later it is still working. The business allows me to provide for our family, while my husband has the incredibly important job of taking care of our growing family.
In 2006 I took a deep breath and started on the path to pursue my doctorate in clinical psychology. I was less than one month into my program when we got the call from our adoption agency that our daughter had been born. We went from a family of 5 to a family of 6 overnight. Whatever I thought defined â€śbusyâ€ť before suddenly paled in comparison to raising four children age six and under, running a business, and working on my doctorate. Thank goodness for the support of my incredible husband, who continued to believe in me on the days when I didnâ€™t think I could do it.
Over the past 6 years my business has continued to grow and change. What started out as a part-time consulting practice and small summer program in the basement of my home is now a 6,000 square foot clinic employing nine staff members and serving hundreds of families. I have the pleasure of seeing children, teens, and young adults with autism, ADHD, learning disabilities, and many other neurodevelopmental disorders thrive. We pride ourselves on using the most innovative and research-based approaches to diagnosing and treating these disorders, and our results speak for themselves. Our client families come to us from throughout the United States and abroad. I have the pleasure of speaking at major conferences and events each year, and sharing my expertise with a variety of news outlets. As a published author and developer of products to support families, I have been blessed to received awards for the resources and therapies we provide.
I am proud to say that I completed my doctoral program in 2010 and am a fully licensed clinical psychologist. My children now range in age from 5 to 12, and watching them grow is without a doubt the greatest joy in my life. I am blessed to wake up every morning to an amazing family, work with colleagues who are dear friends, engage with clients I enjoy, and learn more with every passing day. While I didnâ€™t set out to create this business or design my life in this way, it is clearly how it was meant to be; and I continue to enjoy the adventure each and every day. Winning this award would be personally meaningful; and would show other mothers that if you love what you do, respond to the needs of your clients/customers, and take some risks, you can create a business that makes a difference for your family and those you serve.