Special Needs Interior Design

I have found my calling.

Anyone who knows me, knows I cannot hold a steady and consistent schedule. I get bored easily and enjoy living on the edge. I am passionate about art and design, a creative person at heart. Growing up I could never hold hobbies. As soon as I became good at something, it was on to the next. It began with horse riding lessons. Once I mastered the art of riding a horse, I wanted more. I went on to play hockey for an all girls team at my brothers home arena. Once the girls league became boring in it’s set up, we couldn’t be rough and the teams we played consisted of either girls who were too young to even skate or were a brick house team, I wanted something different. I joined the girl scouts and hung out with childhood friends doing girly activities and selling cookies. I eventually quit because I was not very social and felt awkward most of the time, even with friends in my troop, there was always the young girl drama I just wasn’t interested in, not to mention the moms were also drama filled. So I went on to try viola in elementary school. I loved playing, and it was something I felt accomplished in, but once I nailed it I was bored once again. So my parents got me a keyboard and signed me up for piano lessons. The thought of playing piano was very cool to me, but I never got too into it. Entering middle school some of my friends joined a local competition cheer team. I always wanted to be apart of a routine and something “girly” so I begged my mom to let me join. I loved it, the traveling and competition. It was so exciting and fun, but a lot of repetition. So of course, I got bored. I could have joined a higher level and done a lot more with it, but i was too afraid of not fitting in. So I stopped. After cheer, I didn’t get involved much in any sports or activities after i tried out for the middle school cheerleading team and didn’t make it. I spent my free time sleeping and hanging out with friends. I joined art club in high school, but that didn’t last long.

At some point in highschool I became very fascinated with cake decorating. I would watch the TV show Cake Boss and learned about fondant. I decided to research fondant and asked my dad to let me buy the ingredients to make it and try to cover a cake. From there, I was in love with the art of baking. I made cakes for family and friends, and started getting into cookie design. My sophomore year in high school I had to decide if I wanted to stay at the high school or go to the career center for my junior and senior year. I definitely wanted to go to the career center, because I hated the high school. At the time my parents were going through a divorce and I went from one school district to a different one mid way through my sophomore year. I had to change schools, in different counties. The new school I attended was in the county of a career school that offered a baking and pastry program. I went to the open house and decided I wanted to do the baking and pastry. Then, before the start of junior year my mom found a house in my old school district. I was thrilled, because I hated my new school, and my then boyfriend, now husband, was still in my original school district. So we moved and I enrolled back into my old school. However, their career school only offered a chef and restaurant program, so I decided to try something different, to also be with friends. I went to the career school for cosmetology. I fell in love, and even was selected as one of four students in my entire class to receive a summer internship opportunity. I was good at hair, and really good at nail design. My summer internship was ok. I picked a high end salon that I always dreamed of working at. My internship was awkward and I hated going. I’m not a girly girl, I just always tried to be. So being in a salon full of older and beautiful women was hard for me. I was quite and didn’t learn much. I couldn’t wait to be done. So when I finished and went into my senior year, I decided I would finish cosmetology school, but then go off to college for baking. I choose a college 2 hours away, in my favorite city. When I graduated high school, I moved to Pittsburgh and attended the Art Institute of Pittsburgh. Worst choice if my life HAHA. The school was a joke, and I spent a lot of time in a classroom learning non sense paying top dollar for a crappy education. I was in chef classes where I had to butcher fish and chickens. I really hated it, but thought I would stick it out to get my degree. Well, when drama arose in my dorm I decided to pack all my things and leave. I was already home sick, and my boyfriend, now husband, was picking me up from school every weekend to spend time together. It was getting hard, and the drama was it for me. I’m glad I got out when I did and didn’t give that crap school anymore money.

So I left college and came home. Not knowing what to do next, a friend of mine from cosmetology school was working as a receptionist at the salon I interned at. She told me they had an opening for a receptionist, and since I had no desire to do hair, I figured why not. I ended up slowly moving in with my boyfriend and worked at the salon for a while. I thought about pursuing real estate, becoming an agent and selling houses. I got really into it, reading books and learning about the field. As I was tempted to get into school for real estate, I thought it may be a bad idea to jump into something. I ended up waiting, giving myself time to think. I got bored at home doing the same things everyday, and one day started looking up careers in design. Interior design was something I was interested in when attending the Art Institute of Pittsburgh, but though I should have stuck with baking. I looked more and more into interior design, and the more I watched the TV show Flip or Flop, I got more into the artsy and creative career choice. I began to look into schools online, as I didn’t have the time to keep my job and go to college. I found Rocky Mountain College of Art and Design and fell in love. RMCAD was everything I wanted. Fully online and an accredited college I could afford to take out loans for. I started school at RMCAD in October of 2015. Since, I have been studying interior design, and after taking some sustainable classes and getting into clean energy and green design, I picked up extra course work to have a sustainable degree.

Soon after starting school I got engaged to my highschool sweetheart and started to plan our wedding. Stress was an understatement for the time I spent planning our wedding, working full time and going to college full time. If only I knew then what stress really felt like,Haha! I took a break for school for the wedding and our honeymoon but got right back into after my short break. Then, I fell pregnant. I stayed in school throughout my entire pregnancy and also worked full time as a laborer for my parents flooring and cabinetry business. When I went into labor I was in my last week of my term and actually couldnt finish my final. When my son was born i took off 16 weeks of school. When i went back i started full time. I worked hard in school, getting honors and making the presidents list. I strived to be the best in my class, and made a lot of good relationships with my professors.

I was proud of my accomplishments, but found after having a baby with colic that I could not stay in school full time and get the grades I wanted, so I began part time class and created a good school/life balance. When I went back to work after having my son, I found it difficult to stay on top of assignments. Working, going to school and taking care of my highly needy baby was rough. I fell into post partum depression that I am still battling today, almost 2 years later. I hid my depression well, stayed in school and tried to be the best mom I could be. My son was tough, he was not your average infant and had a lot of issues. My husband and I decided that I should stay in school but leave work, to take care of our son and finish my degree. We also has no one to watch our son anymore while I worked, so it sort of worked out in a way. We didn’t trust daycares or very many people with our son since he was super colicky and required a lot of attention and assistance. As my son got older, he grew out of his colic for the most part, but gained a new set of challenges. At 15 months old his pediatrician mentioned our son was showing early signs of autism, and we were referred to the Cleveland Clinic center for autism. At 18 months, our son was diagnosed with Severe autism spectrum disorder requiring substantial support (level 3). At that point, I knew I had to step back from school. I was working with my doctor to control my anxiety and depression while also trying to help my special needs child. I had Leo in early intervention, and we started speech therapy. We are now looking into ABA centers, and getting a consult for occupational therapy. With all the therapy, time, energy, and emotions that came with my son’s diagnosis, I thought I would be put of school for at least a year. So I left, with every intention to return at some point to finish my degree. As I learned more and more about autism and the therapies for the disorder, I became passionate about being an advocate for acceptance and treatment for autism. I thought about completely switching my career choice to become a behavioral analyst, but knew my son needed my attention more. Now, sitting here only 2 months after being out of school, I am itching to get back into my college and finish my degree. I thought of ways I could help the special needs community while also pursuing my passion for design. That’s when it hit me, sustainable interior design for special needs education, home and medical areas. Could this be my calling? My passion for creative art, writing, and advocacy could be this. I know I wouldn’t survive a career that didn’t involve art or design. This career choice is in high demand, needing more research and professionals in the industry. I would be able to take my own personal experiences with autism, work with other parents and educators and deliver uniquely catered design for the ever growing autism community. This is a big dream, and hard to predict how it will unfold, but I am so excited to see how I can make an impact in the design world and make those with special needs feel more comfortable and at peace in their environments.

Here’s to the future!

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