Janet Culver is a Special Education Teacher in the Park Hill, Missouri school district in the suburban Kansas City area. I am Edna Smith and I first met Janet when I started my position as Autism Coach with the Park Hill school district in 2005. she was the paraprofessional in the Bright Beginnings early childhood autism program that was taught by Elisa Parker. I soon learned that Janet was the mother of Paige, who was about 9 years old at the time and who was a student in the autism program at Graden Elementary School. Paige was a beautiful and fascinating child whom I recall spending much of her unstructured time filtering scraps of paper through her fingers and blissfully watching it fall. Over the time I knew her, Janet (the mother of two other children) earned a degree in special education and became a teacher in the Park Hill Early Childhood Special Education Program. In ______ Janet was selected to be the Park Hill Teacher of the Year. Janet is my Facebook Friend and in April of 2021 she began making Facebook entries for Autism Awareness Month. I have asked her if Project ACCESS could repost her entries as part of our Project ACCESS blog. She graciously agreed.
My Autism Journey Day 1-I’m going to try to share something each day this month about our autism journey. I’ve told my story many times, but I want to try to document some of my feelings and experiences for the last 20 years. To start with…I was jogging every morning at 5:30 with a neighbor who had a son with autism. As I was telling her some of the things Paige was doing she dropped off a one-page checklist that listed red flags for autism. I remember the sick feeling in my stomach as I answered “yes” to nearly all of them.