My name is Katherine (Kitty), and I’ve worked at Lockheed Martin Company for over 35 years. I have six grandchildren, from the ages of 16-3. In May of 2003 when the oldest grandson was born, he entered the world as our "Special Needs Grandson". He was born with Erb's Palsy (no use of his left arm). It took some time to realize the complexity of his injury and he has been involved in numerous therapies his entire life. At 18 months, he had Mod Quad surgery and has since regained about 70% usage of his left arm. As he ages, consistent PT is required to avoid physical deformities to his arm and other surgeries may be required as his body continues to grow and develop.
In May 2005, when Aaron turned 2 we thought he’d overcome his disability; until we learned about Autism, at which time he was non-verbal and later diagnosed as (severe) autistic. Since the birth of our grandson, we’ve learned a whole new language; PT, OT, ASD, PDD, ADHD, OCD, ABA, IEP, CVS, BTI, EEG, etc., and we’re still learning.
In August 2005, I had a serious MVA and suffered a Spinal Injury and severe Brain Trauma Injury (BTI). In January 2008, I had back surgery and was out of work for months. Motivated now by a deep conviction within to make a difference during my lifetime, my grandson's life, and the lives of those in the community around me, it is my heart's passion to help others receive assistance and encourage them to live life on earth to the fullest.
In August 2008 we opened The Autism Sunshine House, Inc. (for profit) and offered in-home daycare from birth to 4 years, social skills therapy and respite care by appointment. Simultaneously, we opened Autism In Georgia, Inc. (non-profit) in order to qualify for grants and community assistance.
Since then much has changed in our lives, Aaron is now 14 and we have learned a lot. However, we didn’t learn this without a steep price! My daughter and her entire family had to move from Georgia to Texas to get the help they needed. It became apparent that Autism In Georgia wasn’t confined just to us in Georgia, it’s all over America, thus, “Autism America”.
Aaron does have appropriate speech now but often it’s difficult for him to access, especially during melt downs. Aaron has a service dog named Cricket who is instrumental in advocating for Aaron’s safety. Aaron goes to a special school and is learning basic life skills; the school takes him grocery shopping and he is learning to pick out food that he can eat; he’s learning how to pay for it and even how to prepare it. It has been a very long process and as Aaron ages, he’s constantly evolving. Aaron now has in-home care from 6am to 8pm 7 days a week. He has a routine schedule that he follows that includes, ABA therapy, table time, social integrations, daily car rides and he has made huge strides.
It is our mission to advocate for all who are perceived as different, in all ages of life. The earlier you get a diagnosis the better. Our walk has been a more intensive special needs case, everyone’s walk is different. Educating our local and national communities on autism is a key aspect of how we advocate. We invite you to join our efforts to raise autism awareness to better the future of those living on the autism spectrum. If you or someone you know has autism won’t you please consider donating to our cause?
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