I’m a retired teacher, right? Talking in front of people is not a problem.
I spent twenty years talking in front of people. Well, groups of about twenty kids under nine. They were not always an easy audience. At the start of each year I also spoke to their collective parents.
Then I spent five years talking in front of sometimes hostile-ish, reluctant college seniors. I instructed them on how to teach math to elementary students. At least half of them hated math and/or didn’t understand it. Hence the occasional feeling of hostility because I expected them to do the math.
Now, I am preparing to talk in front a group of maybe thirty adults about autism and how to listen effectively to parents or grandparents of children with special needs.
April is Autism Awareness month and, this April, I will be speaking to a group of Stephen Ministers. Stephen Ministers are caring listeners, called care givers. Their care receivers may be experiencing challenges in any number of areas ranging from grief over the death of a loved ones to parenting struggles. Everything is confidential.
In one of my former lives, I was a Stephen Minister. I honed my listening skills during my training for this ministry. Years later, as I worried about how I would react to retirement and fearing that I may curl up into a disused ball of worthlessness, I signed up to be on the receiving end of this ministry.
Now, I am preparing to be one of the presenters that provides care givers with information to help them in their ministry.
One thing that has happened to me in the last few years, is that I have become ADD. Well, let’s just go ahead and add that H. I am ADHD. As a result, I have been thinking both about preparing for my little talk as well as thinking about blog posts. My brain, divided in this way, has not let me do either effectively.
Suddenly, it occurred to me that I could combine my divided efforts into one. As I prepare the topics that I will discuss in my talk, I will write about the same topics for posts, but in a little more depth. As a result, some of what you read in upcoming posts will be about topics that I feel will benefit people who might be trying to help support, through a listening ministry, parents or grandparents of children with special needs. There might also be an adult care receiver who has special needs.
But, because I learned as a Stephen Minister that many of the people who spoke provided me with information that was also useful in my personal life, I hope that all the people who are at the April meeting will learn something that will help them become more aware of people they encounter in various settings, people who may have autism.
If you are reading this and have a family member with autism or other needs, shout out something that you think I should be sharing with this group of people who are, by nature, a nurturing and non-judgmental group.
And watch and share to future posts that will help me in my presentation.
Stories that share experiences about autism are good to sprinkle around, right?
(Totally unrelated, I am also drafting an email to try to snag a guest author appearance in April on a local radio or television show that features local people. I’m not good at marketing myself and I hate doing it. Wish me luck.)