• Kelly

Our Autism Story – “Autism Society of Southeastern Wisconsin”

Updated: Apr 12, 2019

The Autism Society of Southeastern Wisconsin has been everything to us over the past five years. We attended the Autism Society’s Gala last night, where I had the opportunity to co-present. Below is an excerpt of some of my portion from last night. I’m hoping it speaks to some of the many reasons we are such strong supporters. For more information, please see assew.org. Enjoy!


Good evening. My name is Kelly Backes. I’m currently serving on the Autism Society’s Board of Directors and also serving on tonight’s Gala Committee. But, the reason the Autism Society means so much to me isn’t because of either of those things. It’s much simpler than that. Like many of us in the room here tonight, I’m just a mom…with a family.

(See photo #1)

This is us. My husband Nick, who is here tonight. Our daughter Helena, who is 8 years old. And, that handsome little man in the middle is our son Brahm. Brahm is 6 years old and Brahm has autism.

Brahm is the reason we love and adore the Autism Society. Our family’s autism journey began when Brahm turned 2 years old.

(See photo #2)

This photo is from our family session back in 2014. I love this photo for a couple reasons. If you look really closely at Brahm’s left hand, you’ll notice he is holding a dead, wilting dandelion. Brahm was on the verge of an epic meltdown when we started the session. For some reason, this dead dandelion calmed him down. It’s in every single photo we have from the day, and I love it because of the positive effect it had on Brahm. Also, Brahm’s need onto hold things was one of his behaviors that caused us to seek out an autism evaluation.

The other reason this photo means so much to me is that it was taken just a few days after Brahm was diagnosed with autism. I still remember Brahm’s diagnosis day well. After what seemed like a mountain of paperwork and a couple hours of evaluation, the physician told us Brahm has autism and wished us well…and that was it. I don’t get scared often. But on that day, in that moment, I was scared…because I didn’t know how I was going to help my son.

So, Nick and I went home and started doing our research. But, it’s tough because there isn’t a manual or guidebook or a single source you can go to that says “your child was diagnosed with autism, here’s exactly what you should do”. But, what we did find was an advertisement for a class being offered by the Autism Society titled “New to Autism” for parents with recently diagnosed kiddos. It couldn’t have been more perfect for us. Nick and I attended this meeting and went from having no idea what we should do, to being armed with information and a plethora of resources. We left with a game plan. And, more than anything, we left feeling empowered and hopeful – and this was entirely because of the Autism Society.

(See photo #3)

The theme of tonight’s Gala is “A friend for life”. This couldn’t be truer for us. From that very first class, our connection with the Autism Society exploded. Over the past five years:

  • We have attended monthly parent support group meetings, where I became friends with some amazing parents including Kristi and Jennifer that were featured at the end of the video tonight.

  • We participate in the Autism Society’s Facebook group, where we can get immediate advice and support from our local community. This group has nearly 1,000 members.

  • We attend family events, where both our kids can play and have fun in a very safe environment. Judgement-free!

  • We utilize the emergency help line, when we’re in a tough spot and don’t know what to do.

More than anything, we appreciate and rely on the community the Autism Society has created right here in Southeastern Wisconsin. I know that I have an army of autism moms, dads, family members, and friends when I need them. And they have me, too – and that’s because of the Autism Society!

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