Linda Mastroianni, Montreal, Canada – is mother to 2 sons, Juliano 18 and Emilio, 14. Emilio was diagnosed with classic autism in 2002 at the age of 3. Linda is a certified autism life coach and founder of Speaking Autism; she says the following on her website:
‘We are proud parents, we are exhausted parents, we are warriors of autism, we are experts at internet research for autism information and we are all united by the special needs of our children. Autism has united us all as a family.’
Speaking Autism covers topics such as diagnosis, behaviour, divorce and education. There is also a link to the counseling service that Linda offers as well as visitors being able to read her blog about daily life with her autistic son.
For the first 5 years of Emilio’s life he was non-verbal. He attended a mainstream school up until 6th grade and had the help of a child care worker.
“I was very fortunate to have aides that worked well with Emilio. They cared for him and always managed to push him outside of his comfort zone to help him grow and learn.”
Linda explained that Emilio had various therapies in the early years that included Applied Behavioural Analysis (ABA), speech and language therapy, Occupational therapy and Floor Time. When he was 4 he had intensive early intervention therapy and this lasted 4 months.
Linda turned her basement into a sensory/therapy room and whatever the therapist used Linda would buy the same to use at home.
Linda was extremely proactive and positive during these early years with Emilio. She told us that she kept folders filled with reports and evaluations received from Emilio’s doctors and therapists. She used these to give to new therapists and child care workers involved in caring for Emilio so that they would know his strengths, weaknesses and what worked for him.
Emilio now attends a school for special needs children and Linda told us that he is thriving there, learning life skills and achieving goals.
Autism Daily Newscast asked Linda what inspired her to become an Autism Life Coach. Linda explained:
“The inspiration to become a certified autism life coach came simply from the desire to help others.”
Linda voiced that over the years she had so many people calling and asking her for advice and information about what to do with their child who had recently been diagnosed with ASD and all of the associated issues:
“Having gone through so much with Emilio and meeting so many people, I felt that my experiences could help others so I decided to become a certified autism life coach, to help other families that are just starting their journey with autism.”
Linda told us that she tries to help parents come to terms with what autism will mean for their family and their child. She provides them with resources and support that is relevant to their child and their family. Linda’s other roles include helping assist families with IEP’s (Individual Education Plan) and for some families acting as their liaison with the school when attending IEP meetings.
We asked Linda about her website, Speaking Autism, which was launched in September 2012. Linda told us:
“Its main purpose is to provide information and resources not only to families living with ASD but also for caregivers, educators, friends, grandparents, and anyone else that loves and cares for someone with autism.”
Anyone can contact Linda through the website and request to have their information about autism services and resources put onto the directory.
We asked Linda about her future plans. She told us that she is in the preliminary stages of writing a book.
“Writing a book was something that I have always wanted to do. It will be a guide of sorts helping families and individuals navigate through the many stages of autism. It will also have a chapter about divorce and what that entails for the special needs child as well as mom and dad.”
Linda also told us that she is ‘putting herself out there’ for more speaking engagements and to become more actively involved in her local community.
Linda had these final words to say:
“The one message I would like to get across to your readers, especially to the families that are just starting their journey with autism is to never allow anyone else define what normalcy means to your ASD child. When we allow our child to define their own creativity and definition of what “normal” is then we willing abandon all pretence of what they “should” be and freely live in the moment of who they are, in all their beauty, originality and uniqueness given to them by the grace of God.”
For a list of the complete details of what Linda’s autism life coaching entails, please visit her website at www.speakingautism.ca and click on the menu tab for coaching.
You can follow Linda on Facebook
You can read Linda’s blog here