Superheroes Abound

I want to tell the readers of About magazine how much I love Terry Frank and how many people’s lives she saves on a daily basis through her skills as a certified consultant-RDI, director of the Golden Key Center for Exceptional Children, and autistic guru—because if one exists, she’s it.

In honor of our superheroes issue, we asked readers to share their heroes with us. Here’s one reader’s story.

BY GINA BANNEVICH

I want to tell the readers of About magazine how much I love Terry Frank and how many people’s lives she saves on a daily basis through her skills as a certified consultant-RDI, director of the Golden Key Center for Exceptional Children, and autistic guru—because if one exists, she’s it.

I can speak only of my situation with my son. She has given us the tools to make Dominick a functional child in a cruel world.

She has helped him to wear more than just white tennis shoes, to go to a typical school, to understand that others have feelings—yes, things that you and I know innately, but he and his friends on the autism spectrum do not.

The crazy thing with this disorder—every child, person, is different and the diagnosis is not easy, but she finds a way to adapt her skills and the skills of her team to work effectively for each child they support. Her heart is huge. The fact that Golden Key is a functional school in our community has provided a quality of life for a group of people (a large group) whom other facilities would let deal with their idiosyncrasies but never address them.

Yes, there are plenty of places that would have accepted Dominick’s inability to wear shoes of other colors, or to deal with everyday life changes. But Terry teaches him and our family how to work beyond those issues. Terry is truly our family’s angel, and I guarantee she is that for others, too.

I witness every day when I go to the school the many lives she impacts because of what she does, what she trains others to do. She provides services to children who in other worlds are considered hopeless. I think of one little girl who couldn’t speak and crawled like a dog at age three. Four years later, she now speaks some and is being potty-trained. Terry’s team is doing this, and that little girl’s mom is in awe of the transformation.

It is hard for others to understand the world of autism, but it can be scary—especially for a parent. But Terry saved my son’s life. She saved my life and many others’ because of what she has done for us.