Friday, December 11, 2009

Writer, Kristie Bernard


As promised, here is Kristi Bernard, another winner of the VBT November anniversary tour. Kristi is a member of a number of groups to help her hone her craft; she decided to prepare a guest article about Autism for today’s feature.

But, let me have Kristi tell you a bit about herself first:

I love to write. I come from a very artistic family of musicians, artists and writers. Other hobbies include, painting, needlepoint, quilting and working with clay.

I graduated from Wichita State University with a Bachelor of Arts in English, with minors in Education and Minority Studies.

I aspire to write picture books covering topics that feature historical people of color, and subjects on famous women to empower young girls.

To help me achieve my goal of becoming a better writer I am a member of the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI), the Association of Children's Authors and Illustrators of Color (ACAIC) the Children's Writers Coaching Club (CWCC), the Kansas City Writers Meetup Group, and I am currently enrolled in The Institute of Children's Literature.

Kristi, you’re certainly taking all the right steps to get yourself moving along the writer’s road to publication. I look forward to watching your progression at CWCC.

Now, for an interesting article about Autism from Kristi:

The Other Heroes

by
Kristi Bernard


Most of us know about Autism. In 2007 a study confirmed that one child in 150 is diagnosed with autism and more recent studies show that it is on the rise. The cause at this time is unknown, but there is much speculation. What is known is that studies suggest boys are more inclined to develop autism than girls; and the average age of diagnosis is 8 years. Hearing this diagnosis for a child can be devastating; and parents have a lot to endure once the particulars of their child's diagnosis is set forth. The costs involved could potentially cause financial ruin, but with research they will find that programs and financial aid are available to help.

But, what about the children? For them, their parents are their heroes. And, what happens when the parents aren't around, when these children are in school programs away from home? Who are those other heroes who step in to care for these children? Where do these heroes come from, and why do they give their time and effort to help implement the various programs?

There are select government programs available to help parents and children with autism find financial support and treatment. The objective of these programs is to educate and develop children so that some day they will be able to function and maintain a quality life for themselves. The state of Kansas requires that caregivers should hold at least a bachelors or masters in speech therapy, occupational therapy, psychology, applied behavioral sciences and social work programs. They are the other heroes. They look out for the children with autism. Being there for the kids is a labor of love.

In my search to learn why these individuals took it upon themselves to follow this path, I interviewed two of these heroes.

My first interview was with Charla. She is a pediatric occupational therapist who works with autistic children in need of physical therapy, in their homes. The programs offered by her organization are occupational therapy, speech therapy, physical therapy, special instruction (for those birth to 3), and behavioral therapy. Charla is married with two small girls whom she loves to play games with. She recognizes that autism is a growing issue affecting children and can greatly impact a family's life. Her desire is to help the child, along with the family, learn physical therapy techniques to improve movement.

Charla has a bachelor degree in psychology and a masters in occupational therapy, both included training with autism. In regards to her experiences with autistic children, she feels each child she encounters is an individual. She sees how differently autism has affected them and their lives. Most need work on social skills, sensory integration and motor skills. In her professional opinion, each child in unique and requires unique treatment. Some may have mild cases while others are more severe. The rewards for her personally are when she sees that a child has gained a new skill, and that the family is able to handle the situation. Charla feels the best advice for parents is to research and to enlist help from someone they trust. She feels that some of the options cost lots of money and are not always covered by insurance. In conclusion, Charla is very happy with her career choice.

For my second interview, I had an opportunity to speak with Elsie. She retired from the banking industry after 33 years of service. She took the initiative to go back to school and earned a degree in social work. She has been married for more than 35 years. She has 3 children and 4 grandchildren. I asked Elsie why she wanted to work with children who were autistic, she stated that she has always wanted to do it. Her career as a bank manager was great. After she retired, she decided to go back to school to earn a degree. She wanted to serve families and children with autism. She works in the local high school and loves what she does. Every day she encounters new successes with the kids. She looks forward to going in everyday to see them grow, change and become more independent. She is always ready and eager to answer questions the parents may have about their child's progress. She keeps informed of new funding that has become available, and any new services or programs. Her advice to parents is for them to get informed and connect with their doctors, state agencies, and their insurance carriers. She wants parents to be aware that having children with autism is costly, but the costs can be managed.

I was very excited that I had the opportunity to interview these ladies. In my opinion, they are the other heroes. They work with and for the kids. If I had a child with special needs, I would want to know that my child is safe and receiving the same love, respect and attention as if I were there. I would like to offer a special thanks to all of the other heroes who take the time to give and care for the children who need them.

Kristi, I agree that those who dedicate themselves to helping others, especially children and the elderly are heroes. Thank you for writing about such an important issue. Autism is definitely on the rise and I thank those heroes along with you who give of themselves and help make a difference in the lives of children with Autism and their families.

It has been a delight to host you today.

For you readers, we have another November winner who will be featured on December 14th, by Elysabeth Eldering. Please be sure to come on back for another visit.

Till next time,


Karen Cioffi
http://dkvwriting4u.com
http://karenandrobyn.blogspot.com

17 comments:

  1. Great informative article, Kristi. Thanks for sharing.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Hi Kristi.

    Thanks for sharing these insights about those living with autism and their caregivers. My guess is there are "other heroes" at each turn, quietly going about their work. I'm glad you highlighted a couple of them here.

    Hope your writing career is going well,

    tim
    http://medicalmigrant.blogspot.com/

    ReplyDelete
  3. Hi, Kristi,

    Interesting interviews. It's good that they are finally learning more and more about autism these days. Nice to recognize these "heroes" who help children and others with autism every day.

    Keep writing, Kristi!

    Suzanne
    http://www.writingforchildrencenter.com

    ReplyDelete
  4. Hi, Mayra and Suzanne,

    Autism is such an important topic to bring more light to.

    Thanks for stopping by.
    Karen

    ReplyDelete
  5. Great article, Kristi. You're a talented writer. I'm looking forward to watching you get published.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Kristi, interesting article. I just read an article in the paper about autism/asperger's being an asset in some industries (various aspects of software engineering), including a profile of a successfully employed autistic spectrum engineer. Fascinating stuff.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Thoroughly enjoyed the article, Kristi. At last count, I read it's now 1 in 98 children. Someone said that perhaps the children are like the canaries in a mine, our first warning that something's up in our environment.

    The Canadian government appears to be totally lax when it comes to helping in a financial way to parents.

    As for the heroes, yes, I am one of those who stand up and clap and cheer them for their determination to be there for the child. Kudos.

    ReplyDelete
  8. What an eye-opening article. How fortunate we all are to have such talented and caring people in the world to work with these special children.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Thank you Karen for hosting me today. I really wanted to cheer these ladies who spend their days helping autistic children and parents. Thanks everyone for your comments. It is great to see that so many people are aware and appreciate these other heroes. Thanks everyone for your compliments, I am learning so much and really would like to see my writing career blossom.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Fascinating interview. I truly enjoyed getting to know Kristi better. Keep the great work.

    Best wishes for your continued success!

    Regards,
    Donna
    Children’s Author
    Write What Inspires You Blog
    The Golden Pathway Story book Blog
    Donna M. McDine’s Website
    Don't have time to write and post your media releases? Contact: Dynamic Media Release Services

    ReplyDelete
  11. Good interview, thanks for sharing with us Kristie. I like the way you've provided an insider's perspective on caring for and looking after children with autism.

    ReplyDelete
  12. I love the title! It provides a glimpse of those who chose a career not just saving children from burning buildings, but saving people from despair by offering hope.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Very interesting Kristi! I wonder if I could post this to my Greek blog which is for kids. Liana

    ReplyDelete
  14. Thank you Liana, I would be very happy if you were to post my article on your blog. Be sure to send me a link at memelynne@yahoo.com.

    ReplyDelete
  15. Simply wonderful. I really enjoyed reading this.

    ReplyDelete

We'd love to know your thoughts on this post!