In this week's amazing episode, Brigitte interviews Dr. Stephanie Vavilala, a licensed mental health counselor, the founder of Awetism Wonderland, and a mother of a 9-year-old girl who has autism and is nonverbal. Dr. Stephanie has a mission to provide support for children on the spectrum, as well as their families.
Dr. Stephanie shares her story of struggling to conceive for 5 years with 6 rounds of IVF treatment and 3 miscarriages, and finally giving birth to Sabita who was her miracle child and an absolute joy to her.
Sabita was diagnosed to be on the spectrum after she turned one. Wanting to find solutions to help her daughter, Dr. Stephanie went back to school and became a Board Certified Behavioral Therapist.
Realizing how hard it was for parents to find services for their children in her county, she decided to add ABA Therapy to her existing company Therapeutic Expressions which offered mental health services.
She immersed herself in the work of helping other kids like Sabita, and that became her life focus for many years. Although she loved it, she lost herself along the way from neglecting to take care of herself. That is when she realized that she needed to create a community for special needs moms.
She then created Flamingle, a local support group for special needs moms to have fun and play and to support each other.
She is now very passionate about making life easier for special needs families through the use of technologies and with resources and support that she herself has found helpful in empowering her own daughter to unleash her full potential.
Dr. Stephanie recently pulled Sabita out of school to get her homeschooled because Sabita was not getting what she needed from the current school curriculums.
Knowing the needs of other children like Sabita, Dr. Stephanie decided to create Awetism Wonderland, which is an autism therapy center opening up this fall in St. Augustine, FL.
Awetism Wonderland is a comprehensive center with everything for autism therapy--OT, PT, ABA, Art Therapy, Music Therapy, Play Therapy, Baking Therapy, and many more.
The center was created to give kids like Sabita a place of different types of learning environments with a strength-based approach that provides social interaction as well as functional academic skills and life vocational skills. This center will provide support for kids on the spectrum as well as their parents, siblings, and peers.
Dr. Stephanie has also recently published a beautiful children's book called Sabita Finds Her Voice which is about her daughter finding her voice through technology. She shares two of the communication apps that have been helpful for Sabita.
She leaves us with this advice: Trust your gut, take care of yourself, reach out to a community, and advocate wherever you go and educate others!
Dr. Stephanie Website
Sabita Finds Her Voice
Mother's Guide FB Group