10. Warrior Mama: Creating Opportunities and Hope for People with Autism - Stella Spanakos

By Brigitte Shipman

Mother's Guide Episode 10 Stella Spanakos

In this week's powerfully inspiring episode, Brigitte Shipman interviews Stella Spanakos who is a co-founder of Spectrum Designs and The Nicholas Center.  

Stella tells her story of how she started a t-shirt business that employs people with autism because she didn’t see a lot of employment opportunities for adults with autism like her son and she was concerned about her son's future.  

Stella started Spectrum Designs in the barn of her backyard on Long Island, NY shortly after the tragic death of her husband Paul. After the success of Spectrum Designs, she created Spectrum Bakes and Spectrum Suds to provide more employment opportunities for adults with autism.  

Stella's goal is that she should never have to see a parent come in her office, begging with tears in their eyes, for an opportunity for their child to volunteer or to be employed there. She wants to do everything in her power to keep growing businesses and coming up with ideas so that she can offer vocational training and employment opportunities to young adults with disabilities, on the autism spectrum in particular.  

Stella is a firm believer in seeing the glass half full. She shares how she keeps going as a warrior mama even when things seem extremely difficult and challenging because she knows she's already halfway to her goal.  

Stella encourages all the warrior mamas out there struggling. Her passion, compassion, tenacity, and love will inspire all of us to believe in the impossible.  

Tune in to this episode and be inspired by her powerful story!  

Enjoy!

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Key Points

  • Don’t get hung up on the diagnosis. Look at it like an onion. You just keep peeling and working on the layers as you go. You’re dealing with what you see.  
  • Having a child with autism is sort of like dark chocolate. It’s delicious because it’s bitter sweet.  
  • I truly believe that my son was my calling. I wouldn’t trade it for the world. Everything I did prior to my son was a warmup and training for the challenges I was going to face during his lifetime.  
  • Any child with special needs is a challenge. You either wallow in self pity or step up to the plate and deal with it head on with everything you got.  
  • You learn much more through your failures than you ever learn from your successes. You have to keep this perspective if you want to succeed in life and in parenting.  
  • There’s only two ways to look at life. Either the glass is half empty or the glass is half full. If you see the glass is half empty, then you’ve already been defeated because you’re exhausting yourself.  
  • I see the glass half full and all I have to do is to think out of the box of how I’m going to get from midline to the top and I don’t think of anything else except it’s half full and I’m already half way to my goal. If you can think about that concept, you will be in such better mindset and the positive energy you bring to the table will make you Wonder Woman.  
  • My goal is that I should never have to see a parent come in my office, begging with tears in their eyes, for an opportunity for their child to volunteer or to be employed here. From now until the day I’m no longer here on the planet, I will do everything in my power to just keep growing businesses, and coming up with ideas so that I can offer vocational training and opportunities and employment opportunities to young adults with disabilities, on the autism spectrum in particular.  
  • With every t-shirt we print, we’re changing the world.  
  • It’s a beautiful thing when your child has purpose. There is no price on dignity.  
  • We are warrior mamas and don’t you ever take no for an answer. Hang in there. You are truly all warrior mamas. 

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