When I received an email from Yolanda Vitulli recently she included… “I wanted to let you know that I follow your web site with interest, and enthusiasm for the cause….” I thought to myself, “Wow, this just has to be another mother with a child on the spectrum. I didn’t know Yolanda yet so I the researcher in me just had to know more. Why she would be interested and enthusiastic about ‘the cause’?
There are those times when I feel that I’m being blessed beyond believe by the outpouring of another’s love onto the world. Learning about Yolanda Vitulli and the work she is doing to help others turned out to be one of those times.
1. When and how did you first become aware of autism?
I first became aware of autism, as a result of my son’s diagnosis, when he was a toddler. I can still recall the car ride home from the doctor’s office, with my husband. We were both devastated by what we had heard. But I knew that I would have to be the strong one. And, even in the midst of that chaos, I still had a feeling, that it would be OK; that somehow, we would survive, as a family. Today, my son is 22 years old, and he is the joy of my life. His father and I are so proud of him.
2. How would you describe autism?
One important concept that I would like to strongly convey, is that these children can learn.
They have talents far beyond anything that we can imagine.
3. Would you wish for a ‘cure’ if one was possible?
No. I believe in blessings. My son is certainly my blessing and I would not change that, for the world. He continues to develop each day.
4. In what ways has autism helped you to realize gifts (yours and / or another’s)?
I realized my own strength, as a mother, and as a leader. I had to be strong for my family, beginning from that first car ride home from the doctor’s office. And, I have never stopped pushing forward. I love the term ‘Mother Warrior,’ used by Jenny McCarthy. It implies the strength of a woman, a mother, and a leader.
5. What has been the most challenging to you with regards to autism?
There are a lot of misconceptions surrounding autism. Platforms like you have accomplished here, certainly help to provide viable information.
6. How have you overcome this challenge? *If you are still working on it, what are you doing?
I do a lot of reading on the subject of autism. I truly hope that we will continue to advance, as a society, in terms of our knowledge and understanding of developmental disabilities.
7. What are you the most proud of accomplishing?
I am the CEO and Founding Executive Director of Tender Care Human Services, a nonprofit agency located in Queens, New York. TCHS is dedicated to providing high quality supports and services for those with autism and other developmental disabilities throughout the New York City area and Long Island.
8. What is the #1 tool you would like to give to people who have autism or who are helping others with autism?
I believe strongly in music and art therapy. My son learned to say his first words, through the sounds of music. At Tender Care Human Services, we offer the Laura Vitolo-Pastina Music and Art Therapy Program. More about music and art therapy can be found on the Tender Care Human Services web site, www.TenderCareNY.org.
9. What is the greatest lesson in life that you ever learned? *How did this change your outlook?
I believe wholeheartedly that everything happens for a reason. My son has taught me many valuable lessons about life.
10. What do you need help with in order to achieve your goals / dreams?
When you are surrounded by good friends and advisors, you advance in your level of thinking. I listen carefully to my mentors, and through their experiences, I learn many valuable lessons. As the head of an organization that does so much to improve
the lives of those with autism, I can truly say, that I am living my dream. Who could possibly not be moved by her passion? Yolanda is doing more than moving mountains… Yolanda IS the movement! To learn more about Yolanda and her amazing outreach, please visit her at www.TenderCareNY.org.
Your comments, questions and suggestions are welcomed and appreciated. Ill-willed comments of any kind are not allowed here. Please be kind. The law of attraction is always at work: that which you sow, so shall you grow. Thank you and have an incredibly blessed day!
Proud to be the mom of two incredibly awesome boys! One just happens to have Asperger’s Syndrome. Both teach me how to be grateful for life every day.
By Rhonda Spellman, Founder of The Creative Cranium Concept®
Creator of The HINT Game®, The Write Story® and more for children!
Reaching, Teaching and Inspiring Those with Special Abilities