Page 1



| Magazine

5 Top Five Tips for New Autism Parents

Meet Your Villiage Hiring Programs Business Spotlight The Adventurs of Super Tanner

By Gadarine DeRoche


FRIENDS WITH AUTISM 5K AND COMMUNITY WALK We cordially invite you to Run, Walk, and Stim with us at the 1st Annual Friends With Autism 5K and Community Walk! This event is City of Jacksonville Jax Mayorthon and sponsored by Invo-Healthcare / Progressus Therapy, City of Jacksonville Disabled Services Division, Brain Balance, and Proactive Life Skills. Spend the morning cheering on your family and friends!  Our event offers something for everyone!  Participate individually or as a member of a running/walking team - we will be awarding team trophies!  The event is followed by an Community Resource Fair on the Northbank Riverwalk/Riverside Arts Market area. The Making Strides For Autism, Inc.'s 1st annual Friends With Autism 5K and Community Walk is more than just a Run and a Walk - it's a fun time for the entire community to come together and raise awareness and acceptance for autism families and people with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) in Northeast Florida!On February 25th, beginning at 8:00a.m. at 715 Riverside Ave, Jacksonville, FL  32204. All proceeds raised will be used to support the mission of Making Strides For Autism, Inc.  Your support will assist to provide direct services in the form of support, training and advocacy for local families and people with autism spectrum disorders (ASD).  As well as Sensory Bags for autism families and Sensory Boxes for Northeast Florida Schools.  Learn more about Making Strides For Autism, Inc. at

Awards and Incentives: - 5K Finishers will receive a T-shirt and Medal    - Walkers and 5K Non-Finisher raising $150 or more receive a Friends With Autism T-shirt    - Walkers and 5K Non-Finishers raising $500 or more receive a Friends With Autism T-shirt and Medal    - Walkers and Runners raising $1000 or more receive a Friends With Autism T-shirt, MS4A’s Running Man Lapel Pendant, and       access to the Friendship Village for food and beverages after the race/walk    - The Top Three Fundraising Teams raising over $2,500 will receive a MS4A grant that can be used to pay for school tuition,           home school supplies/equipment/software, therapy, assistive technology, medical co-pays, medical services, and more :       - 1st Place - $1,000       - 2nd Place - $500       - 3rd Place - $250   - The Top Three School Fundraising Teams raising over $2,500 will receive a MS4A grant to purchase sensory room equipment      and sensory boxes for their classrooms:       - 1st Place - $1,000       - 2nd Place - $500       - 3rd Place - $25

Registration 5K/Walk: - 5K Run Registration 17 and Over  $25  until Jan1 then $30   - 5K Run Registration 16 and Under  $15   - Walk Registration 13 and Over  $15   - Walk Registration 12 and Under  FREE   - 5K Run School TEAM Registration (12 max)  $166   - Walk School TEAM Registration (12 max)  $144   - 5K Run Corporate TEAM Registration (12 max)  $276     - Walk Corporate TEAM Registration (12 max)  $156

Race Day Schedule: - 7:00 am     Registration Opens   - 8:00 am     Opening Ceremony   - 8:15 am      5K Starts at 8:15 am   - 8:20 am     Walk Starts at 8:20 am   - 10:30 am   Awards and Community Resource Fair


FRIENDS WITH AUTISM MAGAZINE President/CEO Founder Carrence Bass Editor in Chief  Toby DeRoche

Inside this Issue Top 5 Tips for New Autism Parents By Gadarine DeRoche Diagnosis Autism – A Mother’s Advice By Kat Meeks Sharp Business Spotlight: Hope Springs Florida By Ann and Joe Rodgers Hiring Programs for Adults with Autism By Toby DeRoche Interview with Local Author: Jana Vaughn A Mother’s Autism Journey By Kelley Weedon Noda Essential Oils: A Sensory Wonderland By W.C. Ballou Friends with Autism Resource Listing

EDITORIAL OFFICES 2133 Broadway Ave, Jacksonville, FL 32209 SUBSCRIPTIONS

We Connect the Community to Autism Disclaimer In no event will Making Strides for Autism or its affiliates be liable for any incidental, indirect, consequential, or special damages of any kind, or any damages whatsoever arising out of or in connection with the use of this publication or its contents or any other organizations referred to in this publication. The views and opinions expressed in the following articles are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Making Strides for Autism or its affiliates. Examples of analysis, treatments, or recommendations performed within this article are only examples. They should not be without consulting your professional medical or therapeutic providers. Copyrights All content and images used on this site are owned or licensed by Making Strides for Autism and affiliates for use on this site only. Unauthorized use is prohibited. Nothing contained herein shall be construed as conferring any license or right under any Making Strides for Autism or affiliate copyright or trademark. Health and Treatment Information This publication may contain information on medical, therapeutic, and health-related topics. This information is not meant to be a substitute for the advice provided by your own physician or other medical professional. You should not use this information for diagnosing or treating a health problem or disease but should always consult your own physician.

EDITOR'S LETTER Hello readers! Welcome to the first issue of Friends With Autism Magazine. Our goal with this publication is to bring the autism community together in way we have not seen in the Northeast Florida region. As part of the Making Strides for Autism mission, our priority is to provide support, training, and advocacy to families and people with autism spectrum disorders and create a more autism friendly community. In this and upcoming issues of the Friends With Autism Magazine, we will share resources, family stories, highlight providers and autism friendly businesses, and provide strategies for families living with autism. We also want to address a gap in the resources available today by always including information relevant to individuals with autism across all ages, not just small children. Finally I want to point out that articles we include in the publication are coming from you, the community, and the opinions expressed within these articles may not be in line with everyone’s beliefs and feelings. As an autism dad, I may not agree with every article, but in the spirit of openness, we will include a variety of viewpoints. I have found our local community to be split across several lines: autism parents and autistic adults, holistic versus scientific approaches, therapy versus pure acceptance, and the list goes on. If you would like to contribute your own article about experiences you have had or strategies that have worked, please let me know.

Toby DeRoche Editor-in-Chief, Friends With Autism Magazine

PRESIDENT'S LETTER Hello Readers, It is with great excitement and pride that I introduce myself as the CEO/President, and Founder of Making Strides For Autism, Inc. Beginning with the February issue—we will learn from one another what a magazine is, and what it can be, in our always changing world with our Friends With Autism magazine. To start, let me say that I am a mother of a child on the autism spectrum, a disabled veteran, and I’m extremely passionate about connecting our community with the families and people with autism living in our region, and veteran/military issues that impact our autism families. The Friends With Autism magazine was created to provide a firsthand peek at autism in our region and provide career experience for college students and adults on the autism spectrum. We are excited to have students from University of North Florida’s Project Thrive program volunteering with us starting with the April publication. Our goal is to expand the volunteer pilot as we grow into internships, jobs with our magazine and within the community. Your support will help make this a reality.  Please note our magazine caters to a diverse market.  Just like no two individuals on the autism spectrum are the same, neither are our readers and writers.  Because our organization serves parents, adults on the spectrum and the community, you will see person-first and identity-first language.

Carrence Bass CEO/President, & Founder Making Strides For Autism, Inc.

Please know I love to hear from our readers. Drop me an e-mail ( and stop me at a health fair or community event to let me know how we’re doing. And don’t forget to follow Making Strides For Autism, Inc. on Twitter (@MakingStridesNF) or “like” us on Facebook to stay up-to-date on Northeast Florida autism resources and news. I look forward to meeting you!

FROM SMALL STEPS TO MAKING STRIDES Imagine ALL of the community agencies and businesses working together to improve the quality of life for you and your loved ones with autism. We Did.  Finally, there’s a place where families and people on the autism spectrum feel they’re understood and accepted. Making Strides For Autism, Inc. (MS4A) was founded in March 2016.  We're a 501(c) (3) nonprofit organization with a social enterprise business model.  At Making Strides For Autism, Inc., our goal is to lessen the emotional and financial impact of autism on families and people living in Northeast Florida with autism spectrum disorders (ASD).  We are dedicated to providing support, training, and advocacy to those we serve; creating job training and meaningful jobs for people with autism, and to raising public awareness about autism and its effects on families and society.    We bring hope to all who have loved ones with autism and focus on connecting with the community to create more opportunities for people with autism. Our families reside in the Northeast Florida counties of Duval, Baker, Clay, Nassau, and St. Johns.  We partner with a coalition of agencies, organizations, municipalities, schools, and businesses working together to provide quality services, products, resources, and solutions to the autism community. Through our community partnerships we're able to reach families with unmet needs living in the counties we serve and areas surrounding our region.  Making Strides For Autism, Inc. is making impact by creating a more autism-friendly Northeast Florida community.



DADVOCATES Join us for our next network meeting on Thursday, March  8, 2018, at 6:00 pm - 8:00 pm! Location TBD. We send out an email update to all registered dads.

"Sign Up at: https:// autism-dadvocatesnetwork.html .

Autism diagnosis are on the rise, which means parents are facing challenges related to kids with autism for the first time every day. Luckily, we have many parents who are ready and willing to share what has worked for their family. With each issue of FWA Magazine, we bring you the top five tips from a local autism parent who has been in your shoes.Â

Meet Autism Mom Gadarine DeRoche BREATH




You were just given

Many of

Reading about

Your child did not

a lot of information

the plans you had

autism and doing my

suddenly change. He or

to process. Maybe

about your child’s

own research has

she is the same child you

you suspected your

future are going to

helped me

have always known and

child is autistic or

change very quickly.

understand this new

loved. The sooner you

maybe this was

Your child is still the

world I am suddenly

accept this fact the

unexpected. In

child you had

a part of with my

sooner you will be able to

either case, take

before, but the


understand your child and

some time to

image of how

Personally, I skipped

build a relationship. You

breathe and not

your child will grow

the grieving and

will also have to accept

panic before

up is probably

went straight to

that you and your child

you proceed.

unclear. It is okay to

researching and

will not do everything just

grieve for the loss of

reading just to have

like other families. Social

hopes and dreams

grief come up over

settings are more

that might not be

and over in the most

difficult. Your child is

feasible at least not

unexpected times.

more selective with

for a while.

FIND A VILLAGE Find your personal resources. Look to your friends and family to find out who is willing and able to help. Don’t be too surprised if this list is very small. Also, don't be surprised if people help, but not in the way you hoped or asked. It is impossible for them to know what is to be in your shoes. Next, there are resources in our community, but you have to know where to look. Do not hesitate to ask other parents that have already walked a mile in your shoes.

foods, people, and really everything else. Accepting this and finding the activities that work for you and your child is one of the keys to happier days.Do not feel like you are alone, know that there are thousands of us out there.

By Kat Meeks Sharp My youngest daughter, Raigan, was diagnosed with autism when she was 23 months of age.

After hearing the diagnosis, I cried for days. I wanted to hear that she had an infection or a medical condition that was curable, get a prescription from the doctor, and in ten days she’d be all better. Instead, I heard that frightening word, “Autism,” and I cringed inside. Hearing your child has autism is not what any parent wants to hear, and in the beginning, there are usually more questions than answers. Doctors and therapists don’t have the answers we need, and the question, “What can I do to help my child have some semblance of a normal life?” becomes the topic of everyday thought and conversation.

Issue 27 | 234

Raigan was born in November 2003, and to this day she still has no consistent language. My daughter lost her words after receiving a round of vaccines at 17 months of age. In regard to what I believe caused Raigan’s autism – I believe there are two main contributing factors. First, Raigan received vaccinations too early in life when her body was too weak to process them. Second, she had a constant need for antibiotics due to recurring ear infections. She had already had her first ear infection at one month of age, before her first round of vaccinations. The recurrent use of antibiotics can damage the gut lining which may lead to malabsorption of nutrients, yeast overgrowth, and other negative side effects. In regards to vaccines, they’re not a bad thing, they have a great purpose, but “one size does NOT fit all.” I believe children receive too many vaccinations, too early in life and a child who shows early signs of a weak immune system (like Raigan) is especially at risk. If you have a child who is consistently ill, wait until your child’s immune system is stronger.

• If you have a child who is consistently ill, delay giving vaccinations until his body and immune system is stronger and last, • Remember that too much of a good thing is not a good thing don’t allow your pediatrician to give too many vaccinations at one time, especially if your child is not feeling up to par. 

The best advice I have for parents regarding vaccinations is: READ. One of the most informative books a parent can read about vaccines is What Your Doctor May Not Tell You About Children’s Vaccinations written by Dr. Stephanie Cave and Deborah Mitchell. Don’t take a shot in the dark. Study what precautions can be taken to minimize the risk of reactions to vaccinations. The precautions include, but are not limited to: • Educate yourself before your child is vaccinated • Never vaccinate a sick child • Only vaccinate a healthy child that is free of antibiotics (Antibiotics linger for about 2 months) • Request single dose vials that contain little to no harmful preservatives which may be harmful to the body

For parents new to autism, I encourage you to read all that you can. Today, resources are more available and autism can be managed. If your child has been diagnosed with a form of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), there are many things you can do to help your child, but it takes research, patience and perseverance. Go online, search the web, and find the right pediatrician.

The safest course of action is to administer no more than 1 or 2 vaccinations per visit and come back at a later date if more are needed. If your pediatrician doesn’t want to delay when you believe it’s in the best interest of your child to delay vaccinations, always go with your gut instinct and find a new pediatrician. Look for a doctor who listens and responds to your concerns. Don’t be pushed into making a decision to vaccinate – it is ultimately your right to choose if and when to vaccinate your child. Never be afraid to put your foot down when it comes to the wellbeing and health of your child because no one knows your child better than you do – remember that always.

A good pediatrician will be willing to go the distance and understand the underlying health of your child, not one who says “let’s medicate” before they understand your child’s symptoms and behaviors. Go to the bookstore for resources, and put into practice what you learn. 

From a gluten free/casein free diet, to the right vitamin supplements and minerals, to cod liver oil, to mild hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT), to chelation – there are so many things now available to help recover our precious children. Often, it’s not just one of these, but a combination of many of treatment accompanied with physical, occupational, speech, chiropractic adjustment, acupuncture, and/or music therapy that often makes the most difference with ASD children. By age two, Raigan was completely unresponsive to her name. She looked through us, not at us. Her muscle tone was very weak, which is sometimes a symptom of autism and sometimes a symptom of heavy metal poisoning. She had multiple ear infections beginning very early in life. Frequent ear infections are a common denominator among many autistic children. About 75% of autistic children suffered from chronic ear infections during infancy and early childhood. I thought Raigan had serious allergy problems, but we didn’t know how or what to eliminate from her environment or from her diet for which she was reacting. There were days when she would scratch at her eyes, face and head so intensely, I feared she would physically hurt herself. I had visited more than one allergist with the only outcome being high doses of allergy medications, yet I was given no answers as to what was causing her allergy symptoms.

After switching to a gluten free/casein free (GF/CF) diet, and living through close to 2 months of withdrawal symptoms, Raigan made great improvement. After about 3 days on the diet, her gastrointestinal issues improved, her ability to focus improved, her constant runny nose stopped constantly running, and her eczema completely went away. Unfortunately, there has been no one therapy or dietary intervention that has given us that miracle cure. Like most autistic children, improvements have come slowly from the use of many interventions - the GF/CF diet, specific vitamin and mineral supplements, and a variety of therapies previously mentioned. Interventions are often accompanied with education from special schools that are trained to teach autistic children using Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) or other teaching techniques known to be successful in autistic children. We continue to research and try new interventions with Raigan – some work and some don’t, but we give each intervention a genuine effort. Besides a strict diet, oxygen therapy, ABA therapy and multiple supplements, we started Raigan in a variety of other therapies offered by our state’s Early Steps Program including physical, speech, occupational and early intervention therapy. Everything contributed to Raigan’s improvement. She has come a long way since those early days, in part because we started interventions early and stuck to them. We continue to research and try new things to help her, and we found a pediatrician who is a team player – one who works together with us to guide progress. Is Raigan cured? No. But, we now have a girl who can focus and learn – not the shell of a girl who was lost in the abyss of autism and unable to respond to any stimuli at all.

My best motherly advice is this: DON’T WAIT! Autism doesn’t improve or go away on its own. Children don’t outgrow it without INTERVENTION, and the earlier you act, often the quicker your child will respond and the possibility of permanent damage may be avoided. Making the necessary changes in your child’s diet, the multitude of supplements, and the therapies can all be overwhelming at first, but it gets easier with each passing day, week, month, and year. The reward of seeing the light come back inside your child is priceless. Also, because the cost of treatment can add up quickly, there is financial help available which varies by state.  INQUIRE. Go to or call your Department of Health and ask if they offer programs for children with autism or other developmental delays. Apply for Supplemental Security Income (SSI), which is offered to families with children who have documented disabilities. Go on-line to the different Autism societies for help and guidance. YOU ARE NOT ALONE in this battle.

"My best motherly advice is this: DON’T WAIT! " If your child has been diagnosed with ASD, Pervasive Developmental Disorder /Not Otherwise Specified (PDD/NOS), ADHD, or Asperger’s, or if you are concerned your child may be affected by one of these disorders, I strongly recommend two must-reads: Children with Starving Brains: A Medical Treatment Guide for Autism Spectrum Disorder by Jaquelyn McCandless, MD, and Healing the New Childhood Epidemics: Autism, ADHD, Asthma and Allergies, by Kenneth Bock, MD. Find an open-minded doctor that will help you, not hinder you, and above all else, don’t settle for less. Your child, my child, deserves a fighting chance.


PEERS Topics include:

♦ How to use appropriate conversational skills ♦ How to be a good host during get-togethers ♦ How to find common interests by trading information ♦ How to make phone calls to friends ♦ How to appropriately use humor ♦ How to choose appropriate friends ♦ How to enter and exit conversations between peers

As a certified PEERS® Provider, we teach young adults and teens in middle and high school the skills for making and keeping friends. We provide instruction and practice in important techniques for handling conflict, entering and exiting conversations, using humor and more.


Throughout my career I have been involved in

Often the potential employer determines if

various aspects of the hiring process. From

the person is a good fit within the first 30

college recruiting, working with interns,

seconds. The interviewer is looking for a

interviewing, and training newly hired

person who walks in with confidence, a warm

individuals. The ritual of interviewing and

smile, and a firm handshake. We encourage

starting a new job is confusing and extremely

interviewees to look the person in the eye and

stressful for everyone, but even more so for

to be prepared for obscure questions about

people with autism.

your own strengths and weaknesses.

Navigating the nuanced dance of a job

Microsoft, Salesforce, SAP, and many others

interview is one of the most difficult social

are taking steps to employ adults with

interactions for anyone. For someone who

autism. From their point of view, autistic

struggles with any aspect of the interview,

adults are often well educated, more

such as looking the interviewer in the eye

productive, and more loyal than the typical

with confidence, this can seem like an

employee. They offer jobs that require

impossible task. So it’s not surprising the

attention to detail and extreme focus.

vast majority of autistic adults are underemployed.

In some cases, non-profit organizations are helping to bridge the gap between the

Finally some companies are catching on to

autism community and the employers by

the fact that there is an untapped pool of

offering specialized training to the

highly skilled people that need jobs.

individuals with autism. In other cases,

Companies like Ford, Ernst & Young,

groups are working directly with the


Second, we are working toward

changes they need to make to work with

community acceptance. Autism awareness

the autism community. The changes may

is well underway, and at this point it is time

include altering the interview process,

move forward for full integration.

including a quiet room, and setting appropriate expectations with their staff.

Third, we have programs in place to work with college students who are soon to

Here is Northeast Florida, we are taking a

enter the job force. At University of North

multifaceted approach. First, through

Florida, Project THRIVE is working with

Making Strides for Autism, we are

students before they begin their job search.

consulting with local businesses to

THRIVE participants have opportunities to

increase the acceptance of autism and to

engage with individual coaches, group

make accommodations to better work with

support meetings, personal counseling

the broader autism community.

sessions, health check-ins, and other support entities. Best of all, this program is free for UNF students.

For the Northeast Florida Region, we challenge the local business community to become Autism Friendly. Contact Making Strides for Autism for more information and consulting assistance as you reach for this goal. Here is the support we can provide: Training for your employees at your location on how to welcome and support families and customers with autism A roadmap for incorporating strategies and procedures to support families and customers with autism and establish longterm relationships Guidance for your Human Resources staff, assistance with mapping out your talent acquisition, onboarding, employee benefits, and accommodations when hiring people with autism and caregivers with children on the spectrum Customized support materials for your business (Social Stories, Guides, Visual Aids, Marketing Materials, etc.) Friends With Autism Branded Identification Business window decal, logo for marketing materials, and a business toolkit Listing on our community resource directory and in our Friends With Autism Resource Digital MagazineÂ



HSF began in 2016 as a tax exempt, nonprofit


vetrepreneurship (veteran owned business), and with continued support, the dream will spread

The dream of Ann and Joe Rodgers is finally a reality at their home in San Marco. Vacation respite care, especially for children with autism, is available at an affordable cost.  Families with special children encounter difficulties that neurotypical families do not have to deal with, and most of them do not have a way to unwind and lower their stress level.  NOW, they do! Once a family makes their reservation with Hope Springs Florida, they will have all of the services needed for a great vacation, including airport pickup, grocery delivery, babysitting, transportation and discounts at local retailers.

to other cities nationwide. Currently, there exists no other affordable option for these families, and Hope Springs Florida is what will make northeast Florida the vacation destination for these families who desperately need a break. Jacksonville is a place for hearts of compassion, and we will always be grateful for the privilege we have to serve these families.  We want to put northeast Florida on the map as the go-to destination for families, throughout our beautiful country.  By working with our community friends, we will make that happen, and continue to make Jacksonville the best place to work and play!

The family will live in one side of the house, and Joe and Ann will be available as needed

Contact us for more information:

to the family. Each vacation will be

25 North Market Street

customized to the needs of that family, i.e.

Jacksonville, Florida 32202

gluten-free, lactose-free, allergy sensitivities,

(904) 805-3497


Jana Vaughn is a local autism mom who recently wrote a book with her ten year old son Tanner called: The Adventures of Super Tanner: Everyone has a Bubble

FWA Mag: What inspired you to write a book with your son?

FWA Mag: What inspired you to write a book with your son?

Kids and parents need a book with a character that shows them it’s ok to be quirky, and that there are other kids just like them, and how to deal with different situations. This book was written by a real mom who has a real son who has Aspergers. The main concept is from his point of view, and how he would handle a quirky situation. The book can easily reach children by looking at situations through their lens, and giving them the strategies they need to build a greater sense of commonality with their peers.

Kids and parents need a book with a character that shows them it’s ok to be quirky, and that there are other kids just like them, and how to deal with different situations. This book was written by a real mom who has a real son who has Aspergers. The main concept is from his point of view, and how he would handle a quirky situation. The book can easily reach children by looking at situations through their lens, and giving them the strategies they need to build a greater sense of commonality with their peers.

FWA Mag: Did you have any outside professionals review the book? I called my son’s former ABA Therapist to have her review the book with me. I wanted to make sure it would work in a therapist setting. She told me “one of the hardest things to do during social skills therapy is to come up with a story and/or an activity that fits the situation of the skill, and that a lot of therapist have difficulties coming up with the scenarios. Successful books, I believe, need to have an expectation of consistency”. The social story books I have found were cold and not very approachable. My book has bright colors, an easy to understand situation, and a superhero that is readily identifiable with young readers. I want this book to be one child with autism speaking to another. Having one main consistent character helps the children ask the question, what would Super Tanner do?

FWA Mag: When can we get a copy of The Adventures of Super Tanner? The Adventures of Super Tanner: Everyone has a Bubble is nearly complete, and I will be self-publishing the first edition. My plan is to promote the book at the local Comic Con (he is a super hero after all), and to set up a table at different local events. To really get the book out the way I want, I am looking for funding for more extensive publication. If anyone would like to contribute, you can help by donating to my GoFundMe page at:  

For pre-orders or questions, please email:

WRITTEN BY KELLY WEEDON NODA Remember when autism was rare? Back in the 80s when I was growing up, we would see the other playground across from our school’s where “those other kids” would be playing. As I got older, I’d be sent to do service projects at L’Arch Harbour House, also on our school’s property. I’d rake leaves or work in the kitchen (diligently and quietly lest I be sent back to class). But I didn’t interact much with the residents. I even spent a week as a buddy at a camp for individuals with special needs. That’s when I first met someone I knew to be autistic. But as a teenager in the late 80s/early 90s, I didn’t know the direct impact of these experiences. It was just a whole other world.

In college I worked in a special needs pre-

That was my daughter’s kindergarten year, my

school as part of my social work practicum. I

first year back to work as a newly single mom.

also did a rotation in the state psychiatric

Oh, the shame of not doing more back then, of

hospital. But I still didn’t really see the patients.

not recognizing or knowing what to do. The

They were still just some other people, a means

grief of the divorce and losing my dad was

to an end. Ultimately, I went into marketing

almost too much to bear. And I was just

and business development. I didn’t necessarily

ignorant of what was really going on.

feel connected to the field or just wasn’t ready to answer a call to work with individuals with

It took a lot of hard years to get to where we

disabilities. After all, adolescence lasts until age

are now. The emotional toll of these crises and

28, right? I was still figuring stuff out.

the feelings of relief when I was able to face them are all part of the journey for mothers of

As I ended my adolescence and entered

special needs kids. I could read these feelings

adulthood, I became a stay-at-home mom. My

on the faces of parents I encountered as a

“strong willed” child sure was a bundle of fun. I

teacher, and the more guidance they sought

especially loved getting John Rosemond

from me, the more I was pulled back to those

articles cut out of the local newspaper in the

early days of “other kids” and hospital patients.

mail from my mother. What she didn’t know

But now they were my kids. My daughter. My

was that I was reading all the books about ODD

students. And now I know what to do.

that I could get my hands on. In Pre-K my

So this how I found the fuel to open a center

daughter struggled with making friends and

for families to treat academic, emotional/

the teacher kindly told me she was

behavioral disorders, developmental delays and

“developmentally behind.” Yes, I knew that. But

intellectual, social and language impairments.

she talked and walked and had all the other

Whether a brain injury, family trauma, or a

“important” milestones. Surely, she would just

diagnosis of autism, parents just want to know

grow out of it.

what to do and to find caring professionals to help them in their own journeys. I just hope

Meanwhile, my marriage was imploding; our

that my struggle and what I learned can help

daughter’s issues were all my fault. I believed I


was a bad mom, especially because I was “selfishly” going back to work, changing careers to become a teacher. My daughters and I moved home to Jacksonville after the divorce.

About the author: Kelly Weedon Noda is the

And that’s when my dad got sick. On April 9th,

owner of Proactive Life Skills LLC, a

2008 doctors found a glioblastoma (brain

Jacksonville-based agency which provides

tumor) on his frontal lobe. He died on May

academic and behavior supports for ages 6 and


up. Kelly was a teacher of middle and high school English, an ESE teacher and a college instructor from 2007-2016. She earned a master’s degree in English from UNC-C in 2007 and a master’s in Exceptional Student Education from the University of West Florida in 2017 and is currently a Board Certified Assistant Behavior Analyst.  

If you are anything like I am as an Autism mom, you would search high and low for anything and everything that could be used to help alleviate some of the symptoms of Autism.  Our children work extremely hard to get where they need to be, and we will take all of the support and advice we can in order to help them through this journey.  We are all trying different medications, different therapies, different diets, and still wonder if there is anything else out there that can help.  Aromatherapy is a wonderful option for seeking an alternative approach!

Essential Oils: A Sensory Wonderland, was written in order to educate other parents about aromatherapy and how to really use essential oils to help all aspects of physical, mental, and emotional well-being. The author, W. C. Ballou, begins with a down-to-earth chapter introducing and explaining her story about Autism and the hoops that she jumped through along the way.  Some of those hoops include bad medication choices and hours of therapy per week- which most of us can understand.  Then, she goes on to explain the reason why she completely changed her career path in order to study and utilize aromatherapy techniques in order to help her son and her entire family.   After her introduction, Ballou goes on to break down the scientific studies that have been published about essential oils, Autism, and ADHD.  Her research is easy to read, and provides information about the results of the studies, the chemical properties and uses of the essential oils used in the studies, and includes a ton of information in a nice and compact chapter about other essential oils that can help parents like us. A major problem in the essential oil industry is quality.  You may be using essential oils and seeing zero results.  Why?  Quality!  If you are using an essential oil that you found online for $2, you can pretty much bet it is synthetic.  You will not reap natural benefits from an oil created in a lab.  Ballou helps you determine the best essential oils to use, so that you can experience their benefits.  She also reviews safety information, dilution ratios for adults and children, and suggested application techniques.   The last half of the book is full of recipes that the author developed with our children and our families in mind.  She named the recipes based on what they were created to do, which is pretty self-explanatory in the book.  Some of her blends include Calm Winds, Happy Time, and Grounded and Calm.  Many of the recipes can be used as either a roller, diffuser blend, inhaler, or bath salts.  Ballou included a few sensory activities that incorporate the use of essential oils as well! This book is packed with everything that you need to know about using essential oils with your children and your family.  It is available on Amazon Prime and Kindle.  

About the author: W. C. Ballou is an Autism mom and Navy wife who holds a Master’s in Education and a B.S. in Environmental Science. She previously worked as general education teacher and a special education teacher, but chose to leave her profession in order to become certified in aromatherapy and work in that field.   Today, Ballou is homeschooling her amazing son as she and her family move through their military and ASD adventure together.


DELIVERING OUTCOMES Contact Us TOLL-FREE: 800.356.4049 General Information: •

Autism is an “invisible� disability and as such it is important for families and people on the spectrum to feel more comfortable and welcome in public places. The Friends With Autism Community Resource Directory is here to connect families, people on the spectrum, and the community together. Businesses on this directory have a level of understanding and acceptance of autism. Please understand unless the business is a direct autism provider, the staff does not have extensive training in autism. However, they have an attitude of acceptance and a willingness to learn. In the future these businesses will be easily identifiable by the Friends With Autism identification branded logo displayed on their websites and business doors or windows. This directory is provided for informational purposes in the hope that families and individuals living in Northeast Florida and surrounding areas will more easily find providers, resources, and businesses to meet their individual needs. The inclusion of a particular provider or business is not an endorsement of that provider or business by Making Strides For Autism, Inc. Making Strides For Autism, Inc. reserves the right to refuse to include any organization, business, or group on the Friends With Autism Community Resource Directory.


CORNERSTONE SPECIAL EDUCATION ALLIANCE 101 Century 21 Dr, Suite 112 Jacksonville FL 32216, US (904)570-9776

HEAL FOUNDATION P.O. Box 140 Ponte Vedra, FL 32004 (904)716-4198

FAMILY NETWORK ON DISABILITIES (POPIN) Kathy Powell 2196 Main Street, Suite L Dunedin FL 34698, US (800)825-5736

KEE2BEAUTY BY DESIGN Jonica Kee Jacksonville FL, US (904)370-9021

MAKING STRIDES FOR AUTISM, INC. 2133 Broadway Ave Jacksonville FL 32209, US (904)862.6040

MELODY & HARMONY MUSIC FOUNDATION Jacksonville FL 32202, US 904-257-6873


OPERATION MEANINGFUL LIFE Michael L. Stuart, Ed.S Jacksonville FL, US (904)379-0883 00572066686292/

PROACTIVE LIFE SKILLS /PLS THERAPY & LEARNING CENTER 13121 Atlantic Blvd, Suite 200 Jacksonville FL 32225, US (904) 491-2111

SEAGULL BAKERY 3724 Southside Blvd Jacksonville FL 32216, US (904)930-7240

SPECTRUM SIGNS & GRAPHICS Doyle Haynes 3653 Regent Blvd, Suite 402 Jacksonville FL 32224, US (904)281-9999

Partner with Making Strides For Autism JOIN












The directory is now available online to visitors across Northeast Florida and surrounding areas. It


has many features and more opportunities for you


to connect with an ever growing number of


visitors to our site.


By becoming part of the Friends With Autism


Community Resource Directory, you are making


your information available 24/7 to families, caregivers, educators and other professionals who help families of children with autism in Northeast Florida and surrounding areas. Your business information will be transferred by Making Strides For Autism, Inc. to a free basic listing if you are currently on the Heal Foundation resource directory. All listings have the option to upgrade.    Your directory listing are controlled entirely by you via a members interface where you can log in, edit details, add photos & videos, share events, and even special promotions to advertise deals and offers to your customers. You also have the opportunity for banner advertising. We hope you like our new community resource directory


service. Making Strides For Autism, Inc. reserves the right to reject any entries that we believe are not appropriate for our directory. Please note that your submission will be reviewed and verified before it is placed into the directory. Making Strides For Autism, Inc. makes the final decision on which businesses, groups and organizations are included.

All contributions from directory listings help to fund the programs and services for families and people with autism we serve in our community. Questions and information email:

Friends With Autism Magazine, Issue 1, February 2018