Finding Inspiration in the Unexpected
Be the change that you wish to see in the worldGandhi
I am not an elegant writer or great storyteller. I am an introvert. An Inspector, according to Briggs Myers. I prefer to keep my personal business to myself and to share with loved ones only. However, my passion for making a difference has trumped all of these qualities and has empowered me to initiate change. Optimistic, I know.
In May of 2014, my life took a detour. A week following my twin’s first birthday, and after an internet search concerning my son’s tireless fascination with his hands, I stumbled upon a checklist of early autism symptoms in children. By the end of the list, I felt as if my heart had dropped to the floor. I didn’t need a doctor’s diagnosis. I didn’t need another person assuring me that “everything is fine” or “all children develop at a different pace.” Instinct, especially a mother’s, will never fail.
My son was officially diagnosed with ASD in October of 2014, at 17 months- old, but I had assumed the role of “warrior” mom numerous months prior. “Kelli” means warrior in Irish, and it was time to step into the ring, lace up my fighting shoes, and kick ass. While my son was flipping toy cars over and repetitively spinning their wheels, I was spinning my own wheels in an attempt to navigate new terminology, insurance coverage, and reputable resources.
My husband and I were praised for detecting his autism so early, but how beneficial is a diagnosis if the treatment he was receiving was ineffective or not enough? I was in a glass cage of awareness, and every day that I failed in identifying appropriate intervention, I was also failing to improve his future quality of life.
Upon reflection of that first year, I acknowledged the silver lining. In the midst of that confusion and anxiety, I powered through and was able to compose a program that worked for my son and family. However, I find it inconceivable that this pattern of helplessness should continue for future parents venturing to find solutions. 1 out of 68 for the general population. 1 out of 50 for school age children. Yet so much research, advocacy, and acceptance for autism is still underway and developing. I wanted to generate that state of vulnerability into support for others. Why wasn’t there a master list of providers for our local region of Maryland?
Providers and services come and go, but my goal is to create a current, up-to-date Master List for the Maryland region. By building a destination where users have access to a wealth of options, I want to create a platform where those who need services can connect with local therapists. I also encourage independent, skilled specialists to register their information so they can partner with individuals on a schedule conducive to both parties.
I don’t have the answer to “what’s next?” because everyone’s needs and goals vary. If I can steer anyone back onto a path of quicker invention, then I feel triumphant. Any minute gained by conducting less research is a minute that can be applied towards improving the relationship with your child. That minute is invaluable.
Kelli, wife and twin mom, resides in the Frederick, MD region. Staffing consultant by trade and mother by heart. DIY Wannabe and retired mixologist. She enjoys a scandalous Dateline plot, the Ravens, and any opportunity to laugh. Hoping the offended-by-everything movement extincts soon. Raising kids is hard, and raising a child with special needs is extra challenging. Discovering gratitude and strength in a path not chosen, and paying the experience forward.