“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” – Margaret Mead.
Shortly after my son Austin was diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder in 2002, I came across this quote. I copied it and placed it everywhere to remind me that anything was possible.
About this time, I met another autism mom with a son the same age as Austin, and a baby girl the same age as my other son, Adam. We were incredible different; our backgrounds, our income, everything. We came together for the one thing we shared, our sons were diagnosed and we were scared and desperate.
That mother, Tammie Baker, reached out to me one day and invited my family to her house for a barbeque by the pool. We never went together anywhere as a family for fear of a meltdown or having people not understand what we were going through.
This was the first invitation we accepted. As they say the rest is history. Our families shared many happy days together, relaxed and being ourselves.
Tammie and I became the self-proclaimed “Lucy and Ethel” of the autism community. Sometimes we “bit off more than we could chew”. Sometimes we chased after loopholes, developed some hair-brained schemes, and searched for every connection we thought may help to get what our sons needed. We did everything we could think of to help the autism community. No matter how big the goal or how unlikely success may have seemed, we always prevailed, as long as we were a team.
We built successful walks with our group of friends, also in the autism community. We became a support group that happened to put on a walk, and that walk became a family reunion of sorts.
We helped in 2008 to pass Autism Insurance Legislation in Florida. We and our group of friends continued to support each other over the next few years.
When I left my position in December, there was no doubt in our minds about our next step. Many insurance companies and Medicaid were now paying for behavior services. It was very frustrating to hear from families that they could not access the services we had all been fighting for due to a lack of providers.
That was the birth of Parents in Action, Inc. We knew the time had come to step up and set an example of how we can join the existing system and mold it into something to finally help our families.
We ARE a small group of committed individuals.
It’s time- Lets change the world.