Since the beginning of time, individuals have started businesses mostly due to one thing: they saw a need and exploited the opportunity.

Sometimes, to some entrepreneurs, the “need” hits a little closer to home. An event happens in their lives, and it becomes life-changing, all encompassing. They realize their personal experience actually is some­thing many others struggle with, and they find a way to use their trials to make the world a better place.

My own experience is one of these.

I can still remember the feeling of my heart sinking through my stomach and legs and falling through the floor at a school meeting to discuss the in-school care of my middle child Sean. Sure he had been having behavior­al issues in his kindergarten class, but never did I imag­ine—as his teacher and principal were describing their is­sues with Sean to his new therapists I had hired to work at home and the school—that one of those therapists would suddenly stop the meeting and demand to know why he had never been evaluated for Asperger’s Syndrome. As­perger’s was autism. There was no cure for autism. “Oh my God, my baby!” After my heart fell out of my body, the tears weren’t far behind. Everyone at the table tried to assure me everything would be okay, but as the parent of a child with autism, I soon discovered it’s not okay for a lot of families, and it doesn’t have to be that way.

Yes, there are bad times for an autism family. We have endured hours of meltdowns. There have been times we have missed events or have had to make very public exits due to sensory overload or other issues. We went through a years-long phase where Sean wouldn’t eat anything that had the color brown. An amputation would be easier than trying to take his laptop or his iPad away from him (you can never underestimate how strong these kids are, especially in a meltdown!). There is also the cruelty that autism families face from others, which, from personal experience, is much worse than anything Sean has ever thrown at us—bullying, loss of friends, parents who don’t allow their children to play with kids because they are “different.” Adults who treat him poorly instead of simply asking parents for assistance. Schools not following individual education plans (IEPs) and in some cases, not offering help at all, but yet being the first to complain if an autistic child has an outburst.

However, the worst enemies an autistic family has can be the media and the internet. Either an autism family reads and believes all of the nonscientific and fright­ening propaganda about what causes autism, promises for cures (there is no cure,) or they are bombarded with awful stories of no hope and doom for their child.

That needs to change.

Even the lowest-functioning autistic has the promise of contributing something to our community. Help is out there, and happiness exists.

As I build the Happier Autism Family, I’m reminded of my battles. I’m reminded of those three-hour melt­downs Sean used to have. How one school district would not offer us an IEP, so we gave up our home and moved our family to a new district. How we once lost insurance through a technicality and discovered the amazing world of autism service dogs. The people we have met and the resources we have gained. The Happier Autism Family will be ready to consult and counsel families, businesses, and schools, and point all of the above to resources and help to provide that need to make everyone’s life on the spectrum peaceful and happier!