Hi my friends, I'm Shannon.
I am 51 years young, I am the mother of 2 children, both of whom are amazing! Jordan made me a MOM first, he is 24 years old and was diagnosed with Autism at the age of 5 and he is MY WHY and the reason I am here with you today. I also have an incredibly smart, beautiful and athletic 21-year-old daughter whose name is Madison or as most people know her, Maddie. She will be a 5th year Senior in college in 2020-21, thanks to COVID-19. She is a student-athlete playing softball at the collegiate level and will graduate with a Major in Communications and a double Minor in Sports & Business studies. I am so beyond proud of her, and yes, I absolutely love and adore them both.
The other piece to my puzzle is Dave. Dave is my person and the man I chose to spend my forever with. You will hear many more stories about Dave and I and our journey inside our Community and on our NYAAM Podcast but Dave is nothing short of remarkable! One of the very best things about Dave is that he chose us! He knew nothing about Autism when he came into our lives. He has learned Autism from joining our family and has traveled this road with us. We have been through many Autism challenges, milestones and successes and to be honest, I was surprised on a few occassions that he decided to stay, but leaving was never an option for him, he was all in and for that I am so grateful.
Jordan was my first born child so trust me when I say, I had NO IDEA what to expect or what was or should be “normal” or “typical”.
He did not meet his typical milestones and had ear infection after ear infection beginning at 6 months of age. By 3 years of age, he was diagnosed Developmentally Delayed. I knew that something wasn’t quite right, but I had no idea what I was even searching for at that time.
I remember the first time he had a major meltdown in the middle of the hallway in kindergarten and hearing the words "kids like him" for the very first time. I remember the day we decided that he would not be able to continue in the typical educational setting and that he couldn't ride the bus the other kids in our neighborhood rode, he would have to ride the "special bus" and when they told me he wouldn't stay in his seat and was taking all of his clothes off and they would have to put him in a harness. I never felt so sad and alone and scared.
It was all so overwhelming and no one I knew had a child with autism. I had no idea where to turn. This is WHY I made the decision to create and build Not Your Average Autism Mom.
How or why Jordan had Autism never mattered to me. The reality was that he did and my only goal was to figure out how I was going to make his life the best it could be. Just to be clear, this is the reason that in our private membership and throughout our trainings we will not discuss any of the controversy around the HOW and/or WHY.
In the next few years, I went through a divorce, which as you know divorce rates amongst parents of children on the spectrum is very high, so yes, I am in that statistic. Following my divorce, a few very difficult years followed for me.
After that time, I ultimately became what I considered to be the most committed and dedicated single mother that I could be to my children. They were my priority and nothing came above or before either one of them. I co-parented with their father for many years although they always lived with me full time. Ultimately, I believe the decision to do that was very good for both of our children during that time. We made a not so good situation the best it could be.
Jordan had some of the BEST teachers and teams throughout his entire education from very early on and they truly cared about him and partnered with me throughout it all. We were very fortunate, but I am also a realist and I knew the long educational journey ahead wasn’t going to be easy. Jordan always had behavioral struggles. He was defiant and being completely honest, there were and still are times where he can be just mean. He has never been easy to figure out, ever. He simply lacks any typical social understanding and does not have any empathy at all so as you can imagine, there are certain situations that proved to be very difficult.
When Jordan was entering Middle School, I knew it was time for me to learn more about what he was going to need to be successful, so I ventured deeper into the Special Needs world and became an Educational Advocate.
After becoming an Educational Advocate, I spent the next 10 years building an Advocacy company and working with some of the most amazing families and top Advocates across the country. I know the education side of special education inside and out. I spent years learning and understanding accommodations and services through 504 plans and IEP's. During that time, I also became a Life Coach because I knew that my journey in Autism was the gift that I had been given so that I could go on to help other moms just like you. Jordan went on to graduate High School in 2015 with a special diploma in the State of Florida.
In 2016 when Maddie graduated High School and was on her way to college, we moved from Florida to the mountains of North Georgia. I can't even begin to explain how grateful I am that I chose to make the move. He attends an amazing Day Program for Adults with all different abilities and it is his place with an amazing staff who continue to work very closely with Dave and I.
I am extremely passionate about the world of Autism. I want you to know that I founded Not Your Average Autism Mom for one reason, because I want YOU to have a place where you can come and BE HONEST and OPEN and not be judged. A place to learn and grow in the world of Autism and to have that that safe place where you can get guidance and direction on whatever you are personally dealing with at that very moment.
I want to assure you that I am going to show up for you in our Community. You will get to know me and my family, and our team and you will be part of our big extended family. I will be here, and I will be showing up for you on good days and sometimes maybe not so good days, but I can promise you one thing for sure, my team is here for YOU.