That same year, I was asked to join the board of directors of a local autism support group, Families for Effective Autism Treatment -- North Texas. I have held various positions within the organization, ranging from President to Program Director and currently Director of Community Outreach. I became involved in state and nationwide legislative efforts regarding autism, education, and the development of services for future needs of individuals with autism.
In 2007, I created Natural Foods and Nutrition Consulting, Inc. My desire to support families who struggled with making dietary changes was the driving force behind this business. NFN provides comprehensive consultative services relating to natural foods and nutrition. We help individuals work through the maze of dietary modifications and nutritional supplementation programs that they may require due to allergies, gastrointestinal conditions, metabolic disorders, and behavioral/developmental delays. For retailers that serve this growing population of consumers, we provide a wide variety of services and support. Last, but not least, is the Wellness program we offer to private businesses that want to support their staff in reaching their optimal level of health.
I met Jay Espaillat through FEAT about a year and a half ago, providing information on supports he should consider when trying to help his daughter with autism. One year later, Jay contacted me, sharing how autism was changing the course of his life just as it had mine. Jay had joined with other dads in a ground breaking partnership to create the world's first web-based video library dedicated to autism -- AutismSpot. I met with Kent Potter, the founder and CEO of AutismSpot, two days later.
It was what I would say was an "ah ha" moment, when you know you are exactly where you are supposed to be. I instantly knew this would be the beginning of something great. I was asked to join the AutismSpot team as the virtual web host, content specialist, and nutritional support expert. I also assist them in developing partnerships with private businesses who want to support the autism community by making information available on AutismSpot through monthly sponsorships of the website.
AutismSpot is different in that there is no agenda. The information we provide is unbiased and unedited. We provide information on a variety of topics that people may not have been introduced to due to their demographic location or financial resources. AutismSpot allows the viewer to see, hear, and feel the many emotions, challenges, and triumphs that are associated with living in the world of autism.
How has the autism community -- resources, research, treatment options -- changed in the 10 years since you first became involved with it?
Well I guess you could say it is completely different. When I started in the world of autism, very few people had even heard of dietary or nutritional support for autism. Families were told to just go home and love their children the way they were and instructed to look for long-term care and placement for the future. In just 10 years, the amount or resources has more than doubled. We now know that environment does affect autism and that this condition is not static as once believed. Researchers from prestigious universities like Harvard are confirming that this population has gastrointestinal and immune-mediated conditions that directly impact the behaviors and coping skills of these children. Treatments that are now available range from vitamin therapy to Applied Behavior Analysis to Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy.