I was born in Montreal and moved near Toronto when I was two years old. I was a typical kid and enjoyed playing hockey, soccer and running track. I remained near Toronto until I went away to university in London, Ontario to complete a degree in physical education. It was during this time that I developed an interest in working with people with special needs.
To start, I needed a computer for my courses. I purchased my first computer from a computer company that specialized in technology for people with disabilities. I became friends with my salesman and then that next summer I was able to get a job with the computer company. This company sold computer solutions for a variety of needs including technology for people with visual impairments, physical access challenges, and communication devices. I worked at this company every summer while I completed my degree.
In my fourth year at university I was approached to coach an electric wheelchair floor hockey team. Being an avid hockey player myself, I took on the challenge. This team was actually two teams composed of children and teens. To be eligible to play in this league, each player had to have a disability that affected all four limbs and relied on a power wheelchair for mobility. These players were remarkable and I was so impressed! Many players had no use of their arms and would have to control the ball and shoot with a stick taped to their power wheelchair. I could barely maneuver a power wheelchair with fully functioning arms and hands yet these kids where amazing. At the end of the season, a team was selected from our association to travel to Calgary for the National Electric Wheelchair Championships. Many of my players had never travelled on a plane. It was quite the experience getting 15 players in wheelchairs loaded onto a plane but worth every moment! Unfortunately, my team was much less experienced than the other teams in the tournament and we did not have the more powerful and speedy wheelchairs to compete. But that did not stop my team. Despite losing every game, my team could be heard chanting cheers as they awaited getting loaded on the bus for the next game at the wee hours of the morning. Nothing brought down this team. I was absolutely wonderstruck. I saw first hand how challenging their lives were to be able to complete the most simple tasks that I took for granted everyday. I saw how much work, energy and time it took for these kids to eat, to dress, to use the washroom... Everything was harder for them. A lot harder. And for their caregivers too. Such dedication these parents had. But regardless, it was impossible to break their spirit, their determination and their perseverance.
It was at that moment, when I heard the cheering in the early hours, that I knew this is where I belonged and how I wanted to spend my life... helping people with special needs.
We lost the tournament badly but we did win the spirit and most sportsmanship awards! Well deserved for sure!
As my physical education degree wrapped up, I saw this degree would not help in my quest to work with people with special needs, so I applied to an Occupational Therapy program. While I awaited acceptance, I got a job working in a clinic as a kinesiologist. That was not my favourite and luckily I got accepted in Occupational Therapy at McMaster University. After this degree, and heavily in debt to student loans, my best friend and I took a job in Tennessee. We had a blast living in a small rural town with strong southern accents. We stayed for a year and then moved back home. My main focus in my work was with teens and adults with neurological injuries such as brain injuries, spinal cord injuries, strokes and other neurological conditions.
After my son was born, my family decided to move across the country to beautiful British Columbia. It was here that I finally made my way back to my first love, pediatrics. I was able to get a position at a Child Development Centre and stayed there for over 12 years. During my time there, I unfortunately broke my ankle while hiking. It was my right ankle and so I could not drive, walk, or work for over six weeks. Pretty much homebound for six weeks, I got inspired to write a book. This terrible experience of breaking my leg turned into me publishing my first book, The Eating Handbook for Children with Autism. It was from there that I wrote a second book, Strategic Parenting. And then a second edition to The Eating Handbook for Children with Autism. My wonderful husband has helped me take my books and knowledge to a new level... to create this website so I could help parents, caregivers, teachers and children around the world with the special needs in their lives.
My goal is to provide meaningful and practical solutions to your everyday challenges. The electric wheelchair hockey players were heroes in my eyes. Just facing their daily challenges and conquering them made them heroes. I would like to help you be the hero you are meant to be because we all need heroes once in a while.