How my cousin directed my career path to Little Star Center

From a Little Star Center employee

There are 17 grandchildren on my dad’s side of the family. Sixteen of us live without autism, but there is one who does. My 9-year-old cousin, Q, lives on the spectrum.  All of my cousins have affected my life in various ways, but the only one who has dramatically changed the course of my life is Q.

He was 5 years old when I accepted the official title of his “personal babysitter”. I needed a summer job between my freshman and sophomore years at Indiana University, and my aunt needed an extra set of eyes to watch him. It seemed like a win-win for all parties involved, which it undoubtedly was. From day one, Q had an eye for adventure, and a penchant for the mischievous. Since he was non-verbal at the time, there were a lot of communication barriers to work past. However, I quickly learned that McDonald’s French fries were his favorite foods, and swinging at the park was his favorite activity.

Over those few summer months, my bond with Q blossomed. Although we spent hours running around the house playing, there were also many moments of extreme frustration and sadness.  Nevertheless, it’s the joyous times that I remember the most vividly. By babysitting my little cousin, I learned the value of patience and compassion.

Working with my cousin helped me discover my passion for supporting those with disabilities.  I feel fortunate to have the opportunity to work with kids with autism at Little Star Center, and I’m forever grateful to my cousin Q for leading me to this point.​