Femmepowered's 'Women of Empowerment' has provided so much joy for me. I have the privilege of hearing stories and gaining empowerment from women of all walks of life, some whom I know, and others whom I have never met! Today's beautiful and courageous woman is someone whom I have never met in person but have had the honor of speaking with online. She is a fierce mama, someone who can easily be admired for her strength, determination, and resiliency. Read on for a brief glimpse at what makes Jolene this week's Woman of Empowerment!

Britnee: Where were you born and raised?


Jolene: I was born on December 26, 1982, in Renfrew, Ontario, and was raised there as well.

Britnee: How many children do you have?


Jolene: I have 2 kids but was pregnant 3 times. I had a miscarriage with my first pregnancy. Isis is 13 years old and Ares is12 years old.


Britnee: I am so sorry to hear about your miscarriage. That must have been difficult for you.


Jolene: It was but it’s all in our journey! Ups and downs!


Britnee: You're amazingly strong. Your son Ares is Autistic. How old was he when he was diagnosed?


Jolene: He was 3 years 9 months when he was diagnosed with autism and intellectual delay.

Britnee: What does a typical day look like for you?


Jolene: I get up whenever Ares gets up! I let all the animals out, feed the kids, and take a morning smoke break. I pretty much spend my days dealing with meltdowns and my son! I stay at home and my hubby works away from home on the railroad so everything to do with the kids and house is my job, unless my hubby is home.


Britnee: What has been your greatest triumph with regard to navigating his needs?


Jolene: Potty training him at 6 years old, by myself! He can also talk with the help of a ton of therapy.


Britnee: Does Ares have any special gifts?


Jolene:  Oh yes! He has been super smart with technology since he was about 3! He is also hyperlexic* which is funny because I’m dyslexic! He could read at a university level in kindergarten and I still have a shit time spelling (lol)

Britnee: What has been the most difficult obstacle?


Jolene: His aggression, which he only takes out on me and on the house, his bedroom, kitchen, and electronics.


Britnee: What is it like for Isis to have a younger brother with higher needs?


Jolene: It’s hard on her! She calls us the “freak show”. She spends a lot of time in her room, for safety and because Ares is loud! She has a big sister from Big Brothers Big Sisters. I’m trying to get her support, so she has time where she is #1 even if it can’t be me giving her that time (which is a tough pill to swallow for me).

Britnee: Are there any organizations/programs in Edmonton that have helped you significantly, that I can mention?


Jolene: C.A.S.E (Children's Autism Services of Edmonton) is pretty much the only program we access! They have our team and respite. They have provided us with a coordinator, behavioral therapist, speech therapist, and occupational therapist. 

Britnee: What would you like society to know about raising children with Autism? What can others do to help you (when you're out in public, etc.)?


Jolene: First, I didn’t choose this; I’m just trying my best! Second, he is a super kid if you get to know him when he is not stressed. Third, compassion goes a long way!

Britnee: Do you have any general empowering words of wisdom to share with women everywhere, something you wish you knew when you were young?


Jolene: You are enough! Love yourself first and always look for the good. Even in bad situations, you will find good if you look.

*Hyperlexia is a syndrome characterized by an intense fascination with letters or numbers and an advanced reading ability. Children who have hyperlexia read at levels far beyond what is expected at their age. (VeryWellFamily, 2019)

Hearing only a small part of Jolene's story inspired me, and I hope it does the same for you. As women and mothers, we are faced with many obstacles. How we tackle them is a great indicator of our character. From my brief chats with Jolene, I know that she is a genuine, loving, encouraging, and compassionate individual, and I look forward to getting to know her better. Jolene, thank you so much for letting me share some of your story. You are truly inspiring and your kids are fortunate to have you as their mama!