Amber Rosenthal has been working as a Direct Support Professional at Rainbows United, Inc. for the last two years. During this time, she has served several clients through personal, unique insights and helped each one make significant progress.
A military wife and mother of 4 children, Amber has a lot of experience helping children with autism. Her 19-year-old son has severe autism and her life’s work has been to help him learn and grow to reach his full potential. “My whole family works to make his world work better, not necessarily work him into our world,” said Amber. “I’ve learned so much from my son.”
When her family moved to the Wichita area four years ago, Amber, a stay-at-home parent, realized that the skills she had developed with her son might also help other children with autism and their families. She applied to Rainbows, became a Direct Support Professional (DSP), and has helped families like hers meet needs and reach goals ever since.
Over the last 2 years, Amber has had the privilege of serving several clients with significant needs related to autism. Currently she works with Stormy, who is 18-years-old, 2-3 days a week and Austin, who is 17-years-old, around 7 hours a week. Much of the time the kids/clients are at Amber’s home or in the community interacting with her family.
Amber’s clients learn life skills like cooking, unloading the dishwasher and personal hygiene. Austin loves video games and spends a lot of time playing them. Amber helped Austin learn to love being outside, going to the park and playing sports. He learned to interact with other kids and what it’s like to have a best friend. “His mom really wanted him to do something besides play video games,” said Amber. “We stared slowly getting him outside, then to a park, then to try different games and sports. Now he even asks to play outside!” This summer, Austin will participate in a tennis camp and he’s looking forward to a new experience – a real accomplishment for him and his family, thanks to Amber and her dedication to helping Austin thrive.
“My greatest accomplishments are when one of the kids I serve reaches a goal, becomes more independent or gains confidence,” said Amber. “It’s those ‘Mom Moments’ that make me smile and light up my soul. I know they can do it, so when they show me they can do it on their own, it’s my real reward.”
Amber’s time with Stormy has been transformational. “When I first started working with Stormy, she was a completely different child,” said Amber. Stormy used inappropriate language, angered easily, was aggressive and hated school. By spending time with Amber and her children modeling appropriate behaviors Stormy has become confident, pleasant to be around, has more patience, is no longer aggressive and loves school! She reaches out to Amber when she is frustrated or needs to talk through a situation. This summer, Stormy is looking forward to taking dance classes at the same studio that Amber’s children learn dance. “I don’t know what we would do without Amber’s help,” said Christina, Stormy’s grandmother. “She has changed my granddaughter’s life, which has impacted the entire family in a positive way. Because of Amber’s guidance, Stormy has dreams for her future and reaches goals.”
Amber has helped Stormy with life skills. She can now prepare her own meal using the microwave and bakes with minimal supervision. “Knowing Stormy can do these things independently is a comfort to her grandmother who is the main caregiver for Stormy and her two siblings,” said Amber. “She is able to communicate so much better. This has changed the relationships she has in her life for the better. I could not be more proud of what she has accomplished.”
“We need more people like Amber,” said Tiffany Graf, Family Support Services Assistant Coordinator. “Her unique experiences with her own family make her a tremendous asset to other children and families. She knows what she does matters and she is willing to go above and beyond to invest in the lives of her clients. We’ve seen extraordinary positive transformation in the children Amber serves.”
Amber spent several months early on in her employment with Hayden and his family. He needed assistance with all daily activities due many health related issues. She helped keep his oxygen flowing, monitored his food and liquids as well as kept him safe. Amber was at his side the day and moment he passed away. ”Hayden will forever hold a place in my heart that cannot be put into words,” said Amber “I am still very close with Hayden’s family and recently spent time over the weekend with them.”
Originally from Washington state, Amber has a degree in Criminal Justice from the University of Phoenix. She has traveled the United States married to her active-duty USAF husband for 14 years. They have four children ages 19, 13,12 and six-years-old. Amber’s 19-year-old son now attends a transition special needs college.