Jaclyn Hunt MA, ACAS, BCCS
Advanced Certified Autism Specialist
Board Certified Cognitive Specialist
I realized at a young age that I had a gift. I could actually feel the emotions of others around me. At times that could be confusing and overwhelming, but as I matured and honed my skills I was better able to separate my "stuff" from the rest of the world's. To this very day I could go sit on a bench in the park, or the mall, and within 15 minutes someone will sit next to me and begin to tell me his/her life story. Naturally, I became interested in people and began to study psychology at Rutger's University and then went on to earn my Master's degree in the Behavioral Sciences with a specialization in Psychological Services at Kean University. My goal was to become a Marriage and Family Therapist, however something stood in my way. While I highly respect the field of psychology and believe in many of the methods psychologists and therapists around the world successfully utilize on a daily basis, I feel that there is a very large gap in terms of Autism and Special Needs, particularly in the adult population. Through my life experiences, I have discovered my own methods of understanding and communicating with Autistic and Special Needs adults. I know how to bridge the gap in communication and actually make progress in the daily lives of people because I have seen it and experienced it for myself. A therapist, even a highly qualified therapist, only sees people for 45 minutes to an hour and does not always have the deep personal understanding of how each moment in an autistic or special needs relationship can be a struggle.
Throughout the years I have shared what I have learned with others that I know who are on the Autism Spectrum, or with other special needs, with great success. In fact, I am currently in the process of writing a book detailing my views on Autism and Special Needs in adulthood. Right now, I feel it is time to share my knowledge one person at a time as a Life Coach. I am always available to my friends and family, and now I feel it is time for me to be available to you, on a professional level, as your advisor. Please take note that I am not a licensed therapist. I am a consultant, advisor, motivator, and knowledgeable associate. I offer a free initial introduction in order for us to get to know one another and demonstrate to you how my experience can lead you towards achieving all of your goals and desires.
What happens when a child on the Autism Spectrum becomes an adult? Similarly, where do children with special needs go after they graduate high school? Who does a parent of an Autistic child go to for guidance when he/she does not understand his/her child or even suspects he/she may also be on the spectrum? There are very few services for adults with special needs in the world today. Getting older doesn't necessarily mean life struggles become any easier, especially in an environment as vast as the world. I am here to change that.
I have experience working with special needs teenagers and adults. Some areas of concentration are: school or employment goals, relationship issues, organization, brainstorming, learning how to understand another person's point of view, how to change undesirable habits and rituals, developing positive and productive routines, understanding socially acceptable and unacceptable behaviors, and most importantly, explaining why.
Some examples of people who reach out to me are Autistic teenagers and adults, adults who may have problems with attention, organization, social understanding, etc. I have worked with parents of autistic and special needs children. I find that changing the way a parent communicates with his/her child is crucial in that child's development, as well as the parent's. I can also work with siblings who may find having a special needs brother or sister to be a challenge. Basically, I am here for anyone who needs support and guidance to make sense of a world full of chaos and confusion.
Special needs children think, learn, and communicate differently from the typical child. Therefore, it is important for a parent, as well as the child, to learn to speak each other's language. I like to compare it to a parent raising a hearing impaired child. Yelling at a child who is hearing impaired does not help them to learn, nor does it help the parent communicate in an effective way. In my opinion, special needs children of all kinds understand the world differently, much like a deaf child/adult understands the world much differently from the majority of the population. I have experience bridging the gap between parent and child, interpreting and teaching each how to effectively communicate and improve the relationship.
Siblings may often feel neglected due to the high levels of attention a special needs family member may require. Other times a sibling may be very protective and supportive of the special needs family member and may not be focusing 100% on his/her own needs. I am here to discuss and encourage a balance where everyone's needs can be met in an effective and satisfying way.
Autistic and special needs adults may or may not desire romantic relationships. For those who do, there can be many difficulties. Romantic relationships are very complicated and require a great deal of energy, time, and effort. For a person with special needs, this is magnified. A typical romantic interest may feel confused, lonely, isolated, sad, and even frustrated in a romantic relationship with a special needs person. I can help you bridge the communication gap, find and feel the love that is hidden behind the lack of words or actions from the special needs partner. I can also guide and support a single man or woman in proper ways to seek out, find, and keep a romantic interest. This can be a slow process, but one that is definitely worth pursuing.
Friends and acquaintances (and understanding the difference between the two)
Friends are people that we feel close and comfortable with. Acquaintances are people who we see on a frequent or not so frequent basis, but do not go beyond mere pleasantries. I can guide you towards understanding the different levels of friendship, how to recognize which level you are at with a person, and to be capable of gathering enough information to know if going to the next level or stepping back a level is most appropriate. All relationships require a certain amount of work in order to maintain the bond. Sometimes this comes easily, and sometimes it does not. I can assist you in maintaining the friendships you desire and letting go of the ones that do not serve you in a positive manner.
Professional school or work relationships
Both school and work require a certain degree of socialization in order to be successfully navigated. The environment of both is very similar, but compared to other relationships in life is very different. There are social boundaries that must be learned and followed. School and work contain large amounts of people who are all different and come with their own sets of rules, requirements, and expectations. I can help you see these qualities and differentiate between various people and their personalities. The majority of the population learns how to do this by observation. I believe that those with special needs think and learn differently than most, and I can teach you how to become comfortable and proficient in understanding others.
All individuals belong to communities. As human beings we are social creatures that require a social environment in order to survive, not just physically but mentally as well. At the basic level, a family could be considered a community of people who share a commonality: blood relations, marriage, children, siblings, cousins, etc. Then perhaps a group of families belong to a local church or fitness center. Those people all have jobs or go to school where they are part of communities that share a common goal or interest. Neighborhood communities depend on the people living in them to keep them safe. The local township is a community where they may throw a parade or party for the locals to celebrate an occasion. Communities are part of our every day life, and we need others in order to survive. It is important to be able to assimilate into a community, to fit in properly so that the community continues to function in a productive way. It is much easier to change one person than it is to change an entire community. As long as that change is positive, and that the community is an important part of people's lives, then it is safe and healthy to make oneself socially proficient in navigating the communal environment. I am here to teach you those skills and show why they are so important to incorporate into your life. Perhaps you have a strong desire to "fit in" but have trouble figuring out how. I can assist in troubleshooting the difficulties and finding ways to show you how to successfully join the group. I can also work with a community as a whole, such as a family, classroom, or office to guide everyone to a more productive, peaceful, and enjoyable environment. Communities I work with are not restricted to these types of groups, I can worth with essentially any group of people that feel they need guidance and assistance in achieving their personal and professional goals.