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Behind the Breakthroughs

Nov 1, 2018

In this episode we take a look at a mother’s journey and how she didn't let a diagnosis of autism stop her from living her life. From the initial diagnosis, to different types of therapies, to IEP goals, this mother did not lose herself. Instead she turned her love for Martial Arts into a business venture in which she encourages others to find their mind and body connection to teach calm, focus, and confidence.

Meet Jennifer Farren, mother and co-owner of Tiger Rock. Listen to her journey of how an extra curricular activity meant for her son turned into activity she loved for herself. From a student to co-owner, Jennifer is now giving back to the community by offering martial arts classes to children with needs. These classes are designed to help with self-esteem, confidence, and feeling good about yourself and your accomplishments, which is beneficial to any child or adult.


  • The special guest in this episode is Jennifer Farren.
  • Jennifer is a mother who has a son with autism and she will be sharing her journey.
  • Nunez had the pleasure of working with her son when he was in preschool and he is now 19 years old.
  • Nunez wanted to bring Jennifer on as a guest to talk about what the journey looks like when a child reaches the adult years of life.
  • Jennifer received the official diagnosis when her son was 18 months.
  • She remembers leaving the appointment hearing “developmental delays and autism. ” Those words made her very emotional and she felt devastated.
  • They got started right away with an in-home ABA program.
  • The biggest change was when he was 3-4 years old he became verbal.
  • Jennifer remembers thinking that it was so much easier now that he can communicate his needs. It was a turning point.
  • Her son will be 19 in a few weeks and he is currently in school.
  • They haven’t quite figured out what the transition will look like after he is finished with school but they will sort it out during his next IEP.
  • At first they focused on academics and now it has transitioned to functional communication, job skills, and vocational training.
  • Around 8 years old Jennifer and her husband wanted to find some sport or afterschool activity for her son, Drew.
  • They gave marital arts a try because their other son really benefitted from it.
  • For her other son, it taught him about focus and discipline and he was physically training his body to move in different ways.
  • She thought Drew could benefit from this too. The great thing about the martial arts program is that it can be tailored to meet anyone’s needs.
  • It is a repetitive routine, which is great. Lots of peer modeling, listening to instructions, and physical motor movement that helps with processing.
  • They started Drew with private lessons and then moved him into the group lessons.
  • Drew doesn’t have the intrinsic motivation to want to move up and earn his belt colors, but he likes doing it and that is great.
  • Jennifer loved it so much that she began to take classes and she is now a black belt.
  • Her entire family loved it so much that Jennifer and her husband became business partners with the owner of their martial arts facility called Tiger Rock.
  • The whole family is apart of it.
  • In the beginning they were students and now they are part owners.
  • Martial Arts is so beneficial because it connects mind and body and teaches calm and focus. It also increases the motor memory.
  • Currently, Tiger Rock is trying to partner with other companies and doing a lot of outreach.
  • Another thing Tiger Rock is doing is branching off and offering classes to children with needs.
  • There are children that have come in with the visible struggles, but there are a lot of students that have internal struggles.
  • The classes help with self-esteem, confidence, and feeling good about themselves and their accomplishments.
  • It is not only great for kids, but adults as well.
  • Jennifer is so inspirational because she did not let the diagnosis hinder her from living life and doing things to help her entire family.
  • Jennifer shares that there are definitely challenges that she has had to overcome.
  • When things look bleak you question, "How are we going to get through this?"
  • Jennifer says, "You just do and tomorrow comes and you keep pushing along and before you know it you are in a different place."
  • What Jennifer struggled with early on was comparing herself to another parent and what they are doing and how their child is progressing.
  • Everyone is on his or her own journey... you’re walking your won path. 

MINDSHIFT (takeaways) 

  1. You know yourself... you know your child... find support in all areas of life. For example, if your family isn't supportive, there are a lot of other families out there to share stories and vent to and not be judged.
  2. Find your Tribe!


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