Autism Awareness: A Personal Journey

April 01, 2024

Gena Moore, MS. Counseling Studies, MNML.
CSW, EAP Clinician for AllOne Health

People celebrate a multitude of things during the month of April such as National Garden Month, National Volunteer Month, Move More Month, Celebrate Diversity Month and Autism Awareness Month. Celebrating Autism Awareness and diversity go hand and hand.

As most of you know my daughter Ti’eja was born 2 ½ months prematurely and only weighed one pound and 13 ounces. She was the size of a pencil from head to toe. The first two months of her life were spent in the NICU. My pregnancy, as you might imagine, was special but not once did I think or even imagine the challenges that she and I would face together. 

I was an Autism (ASD) denier for the first 11 years of my daughter’s life. I made sure she had all the therapies she needed and other services like waivers, special education, inclusion in school, etc. that would help her through her lifespan; but I didn’t want to receive the diagnosis of Autism. Finally, I sat Gena down and had a talk.  “It’s not about you Gena it’s about Ti’eja”, so I reached out to The Ohio State University Nisonger Center for help. At age 12 my daughter was diagnosed with PDD-NOS, Pervasive Developmental Disorder Not Otherwise Specified as well as a co-occurring diagnosis of Mild Depression.   I remember leaving Nisonger with tears streaming down my face. I sat in my car for over an hour crying and talking to my mother on the phone. It was that day that changed my life forever!

A year later, one of the directors of Nisonger left me a message and said there was this program called LEND and I think you would be a good fit in our Family Discipline Program.  Through LEND I became a Certified Parent and Family Advocate, Public Policy Advocate, a 2016 finalist for the Joseph P. Kennedy Public Policy Fellowship, a Consultant to the Department of Defense Autism Research Grant program and a specialist in Neurological and other Developmental Disabilities. It is also through all these opportunities that I found my voice and my purpose.

Here at AllOne Health I have been blessed to assist so may of our clients (And our Medical Advocate) that are looking for ASD resources, a therapist that specialize in ASD and other Intellectual and Developmental Disability, (I/DD), how to navigate through Special Education, finding a job coach and much more. On behalf of my family and all the families that have a family member with some sort of I/DD Thank you ALLONE HEALTH!