This guest post is by Kerrie Mallory, a mom blogger at AutismWillNotDefineMySon.com. Kerrie sent us this post in honor of 10 Years of Progress: A Lifetime of Hope. This post is part of our new blog series highlighting Autism Speaks 10 Years of Progress: A Lifetime of Hope. How has Autism Speaks touched your life? Email us at AS10Years@gmail.com!
Ironically, it has been exactly 3 years to the day that I first heard the word autism in reference to my son. February 10, 2012 my son received an "at risk of autism" diagnosis. I left the doctor's office, numb and in shock. To be honest, I don't even remember how I got home. I remember buckling Conor in his car seat and the next thing I knew I blinked, and I was sitting in the garage. For several days after that, I remained in a state of "I don't know what I am supposed to do". I started going through some of the information the doctor sent home with me and came across the link to the Autism Speaks website, several times. I started registering for all kinds of information, Tool Kits, etc. Very quickly, I became overwhelmed and had to stop doing the research.
A few days later, my phone rings and on the line is Amy Hummell. She called to thank me for registering for everything I had registered for. She asked about my son and his diagnosis. She asked me how I was coping and if I had questions or needed help or suggestions for local resources. I vaguely remember starting to cry, whether she knew that or not, I don't know. Amy and I ended up talking for probably 30-45 minutes. I hung up the phone and that person who answered the phone, no longer existed. I wish I knew exactly what it was that she said to me, but whatever it was she said was exactly what I needed to hear to get my butt out from under the covers and start doing what I needed to do for my son. Ever since that day, I have been not only an Amy Hummell fan, but also a fan of Autism Speaks. Amy sold me on the vision of Autism Speaks as well as the mission.
After that first phone call with Amy, my entire outlook had changed. I was motivated and determined to get my son everything he needed. I had Conor set up with our state services and he was having his first therapy sessions, within 60 days of that initial "at risk" diagnosis. It has been almost 3 years since his first therapy sessions, and Conor still gets almost 40 hours of therapy every week and is still delayed in several areas, including speech. Although he is still considered non-verbal, Conor has shown amazing progress in many different areas. I hate to think about where Conor would be right now, if Amy had not called me that day, or God forbid if I had not answered the phone. Usually, if I don't know the number, I don't answer, but when my phone rang, something was telling me I needed to answer. I am glad I did.
I will be forever grateful to both Amy Hummell and Autism Speaks. I respect and support the mission of Autism Speaks. I not only advocate for my son, but for Autism Speaks as well. When Amy Hummell throws up her bat signal and looks for help from her volunteers, I hope she knows she can aim it in my direction. The second I see her signal, I throw my cape on and respond as quickly as I can. If not for Amy Hummell and Autism Speaks, I would probably still be sitting in my dark cold bat cave, still in denial and my son would not be doing as well as he is doing today. Thank you Amy and thank you Autism Speaks.
Have a story you want to share about how Autism Speaks touched your life? Email us at AS10Years@gmail.com.