Fostering Kids with Autism
Sheena has dedicated her life to supporting children with intellectual and developmental disabilities. She helps children and families navigate challenges in the professional sphere as a service coordinator, but as a Mentor foster parent she supports kids with autism in her home life as well.
A Lifelong Passion
“I have worked with this population as long as I can remember,” said Sheena. “I recognize I have certain skills, behaviors and things people find challenging I was used to.” Sheena learned that while her professional knowledge certainly helped her in fostering, it was a learning curve to figure out what works at home. Her experience at home now helps her at work as well, being able to relate to other parents and caregivers and empathize in a way they might not be used to.
Fostering with Family
Sheena’s entire family jokes about how patient she is, but they all support her in her journey, from her grandmother to 6-year-old son. “This is all he’s ever known, there isn’t anything abnormal for him,” said Sheena. She jokes that like most siblings, sometimes the kids listen to one another and sometimes they don’t, but her son is involved with things like helping a child get their shoes on to walking them to the car.
“Kids are so resilient, so smart, so aware,” Sheena said. “It helps him to understand that family isn’t always traditional but when we’re here in this home together we’re family. Compassionate, helpful, being in a home with kids in care has helped cultivate that.”
Open Your Heart
Learn how you can make a difference for children with autism or behavioral challenges like Sheena.
“What really keeps me going is my empathy,” said Sheena. “If you have the heart for it, do it. Everything else will fall into place but if your heart is genuinely in the right place to support kids with autism the resources are there, just start with your heart and mind in the right place and be open to learning. Be open to your day not going at all the way you planned, but if you have a heart for this population you’ll figure it out. You know children with developmental delay are so bright and so capable of love.”