It’s the internet and the important people on the internet that got me into working in the autism field. I was underemployed and looking for my next opportunity when someone sent me a message on Facebook about that reality TV show The Amazing Race. At that point in my life, I thought, “I love to travel. I’d love to win a million dollars. I have time for this right now.”
Then I had to get a partner, since my husband is a lovely man but not interested in being on TV at all. Thanks to Facebook, it seemed to me that my high school prom date would be a good choice and possibly of interest to Hollywood producers. I mean, they had done every type of pair: parent/child, siblings, newly-weds, fiances, business partners, but I really didn’t think they had done “friends for more than 25 years who went their separate ways and live very different lives now.”
David said, “Ha ha. That’s very funny,” but after quite a few Facebook exchanges, we actually decided to do it. We went to the Joliet Harrah’s for the audition and spent our two minutes in front of their cameras with our old pictures of our 80s hair, my teal taffeta dress and everything else. Part of our pitch was that with the money we would develop a DVD for kids on the autism spectrum to help improve their social skills. David’s son, who is now 12, had come home from school at age six and said, “I don’t have any friends.”
Well, long story short, we’re still waiting for the Hollywood producers to call, and we haven’t quite gotten the DVD off the ground. But in the meantime, my eyes were opened to the challenges faced by parents of children on the spectrum and by each one of those unique kids.
I was fortunate to meet Steve Kaufman at about that time. He saw that my background in leading teams and implementing processes to help people do what they do more efficiently and effectively could help in this area. Together with a great team of people we launched Autism Home Support Services and started serving clients in January 2010.
Every day we meet people who want to learn more about best practices in helping kids with autism and families we can serve. It truly has been an amazing journey for me and I feel blessed to be able to participate in the lives of our clients as their kids speak their first words, develop new skills and manage difficult behaviors. Sure, there have been some “road blocks” and “detours,” but each destination along the way has its rewards and AHSS is a group of people who really want to share this amazing journey to make a difference.
— Laura McKee, AHSS CEO