Deanna is married to Thad, and they are parents to two young children on the autism spectrum.
It came as quite a shock to them when their 5 year old son was tested and diagnosed with autism (PDD-NOS, which is pervasive developmental disorder not otherwise specified) two years ago. They both grew up in a generation where autism ‘looked’ different. Being native to Kelowna Deanna thought resources would be easily found. As their son was still under school age he did end up with a wonderful team at the COCDA (Central Okanagan Child Development Association), working closely to identify and help with their daily challenges and concerns. Once he out grew the COCDA’s age limit of 6 they were now on their own to find support outside of the public school system.
Another shock soon followed when their 8 year old daughter, who they had had concerns about since age 3, was diagnosed with high functioning PDD-NOS. She began to think”what have we done as parents to have two children with special needs? Where do we go to find support? What programs does Kelowna offer that will ‘accept’ my most amazing children?”
The questions overwhelmed her for several months. She shared her concerns with a group of women at her bible study, asking them these same questions, who, where, why, when?! One extraordinary friend challenged her saying that she could make it happen. She could find the way to help families find the resources and the answers to all these questions. Deanna knew she was knowledgeable in ‘finding’ things, but this seemed beyond her reach. It was only one week later when she proposed the idea to two of her friends. Then not 4 days later they started Okanagan Family Autism Connection.
Deanna would love to connect with you on our forums, or you can reach her by email.