This is a guest post by Dr. Krysti DeZonia, a founding member of TERI (Training, Education, and Research Institute) and the CEO of the International Association for Life Quality.
Let’s start with a basic fact: Parents with kids who have autism need more help.
We simply aren’t able to access the degree of support we need in order to help our children, and ourselves, lead happy and fulfilling lives. We are stressed, tired, and looking for answers that don’t seem to be available to us. It is, without question, time for a new model of family support.
We think we have at least part of the answer: Special Needs Life Quality Coaching.
For the uninformed, a Life Coach is someone who is trained to help you meet goals that you have been unable to attain without some help. A Life Coach will assist you in designing an action plan to change careers, recharge your love life, or earn your first million. They hang with you until you reach your goals.
After 30 years, when looking for a way to formalize our support for parents and expand it worldwide, Life Coaches came immediately to mind. Upon further research, we found—to our great surprise—that no one is providing specific training to people so they can serve families whose children have special needs. We closed this gap by designing, and offering, online Special Needs Life Quality Coach training.
Given that this is a completely new career path, we were uncertain whether our idea would, in reality, meet the unmet needs of families and individuals with autism and other special needs. We also weren’t sure who would be interested in taking the class and in starting a private practice in this field. Here’s what we have learned.
Almost every family we talk with is interested in having access to a Special Needs Life Quality coach. There isn’t a need for too much explanation—they get it.
Our class is offered online and designed for working people, so anyone living anywhere can take it. The hours are flexible, and the class gives students opportunities to have direct experience with families and their children or adults as well as with their local service delivery system. By the end of the 16-week course, they have learned valuable coaching skills, have forms and other tools for documenting their progress, and are able to access follow-up support when they need it.
We also weren’t sure who would take our classes. We have found that our students come from all walks of life, but are primarily professionals who already have a private practice and want to extend it (financial planners, attorneys, psychologists, etc.), educators, and parents or other family members. These are all people who see an unmet need and are anxious to fill it.
How hard has it been for coaches to find families who want their services? Not hard. One of our coaches, Ben, had 16 interested clients after he posted a notice on a local autism forum—way more people than he could handle. He specializes in helping individuals with autism develop social circles that will, hopefully, grow into friendships. He’s having great success so far.
Our dream is that the help of a Special Needs Life Quality Coach will soon be as available to families and individuals with autism as is speech or occupational therapy. Spread the word.
If you want to learn more about Special Needs Life Quality Coaching classes or services, go to www.teriinc.org/ialq or call 760-721-1706.
Dr. Krysti DeZonia is a founding member of TERI (Training, Education, and Research Institute-www.teriinc.org) and is the CEO of the International Association for Life Quality. You can follow her blog at www.QandAwithDrK.com.