Christina Van Ditto Warter
As a mother, I want for my children what they deserve. A life free of stigma, discrimination and full of possibility.
It was mid-September 2017 when my daughter had her regression. It was sudden and it was frightening. I often refer to it as a “light switch” effect. One minute she was happy, playing, engaged, and had a handful of words and within days all it was gone. And she became unhappy. And I became sad. I felt like she was a shell of the toddler that once there. And I became a shell of a mom that I once was.
Instinctively, I reached out to everyone, searched for answers and tried desperately to connect with a little girl that no longer looked at me, hugged me or showed me any type of affection. I did what I knew best. I leaned in. And we danced. By dancing, it gave her the vestibular input that she was craving. It accessed different parts of her brain. I used it to elicit verbalization and subsequently became a stress relief for all of us. I began to share this technique with other families. The whole while, sharing my vision of someday creating a safe space for all families of all abilities.
As fate would have it, that day came. And I began to serve our community through a different lens, that of a special need’s mom, advocate, and activist. With a focus on inclusion and integration, S.A.M.E. is not exclusive to special needs families. Rather breaking barriers and demonstrating how everyone can truly be served and embraced simultaneously. I can say my daughter is now happy. She continues to inspire and teach neurodiversity.
S.A.M.E. initially started as integrated dance, evolving to a sensory center with inclusive programming and has now grown into a community-based initiative with family partnership at the forefront.
In addition, we also empower women through S.A.M.E. Sorority. An inclusive Social Club where we champion women supporting women, with a social mission of empowering and elevating the status of women.