Seven year old Kheridan Cooper is Autistic. Throughout her childhood, Kheridan has received respite care through Breakthru, as well as other therapy through Comcare. However, in 2014 she was connected with Rainbows and began receiving Targeted Case Management services. Rainbows’ Targeted Case Manager, Shelby Fitzgerald, has since worked to diligently connect Kheridan and the Cooper family with helpful resources in the community.
Kheridan’s mother, Martecia, is passionate about telling her daughter’s story. She desires for people to have a better understanding of Autism and the people behind the diagnoses. In her own words, Martecia explains what it has been like raising a child diagnosed with Autism and shares about their experience with Rainbows:
There are misconceptions about people with Autism. There is so much I wish people knew about Kheridan, that they might not know after meeting her the first time. I want people to know that my daughter is much like any other child. I consider her Autism to be a mild setback, not debilitating. My daughter is a very loving, kind and compassionate person. She goes out of her way to greet everyone she sees and wants to give them a hug. She is friendly and outgoing. Kheridan is making improvements, and I don’t expect her life to be limited. I want people to know that Autistic children are beautiful children; they are not diseased or “weird.” I used to worry that my daughter wouldn’t have any friends and that children would pick on her. However, I have fortunately found I was wrong in thinking so. My daughter has a number of friends and fits in just fine. She is involved at church, and is taking swimming lessons. My daughter loves to draw and paint, and is actually very gifted in these areas. She has a beautiful singing voice. Where she is a little behind in some areas, she more than makes up for it in others. I like to think of her as my 3-D present, just when I think that I have figured her all out, and mastered one dimension of her, there is yet another layer to her that I get to discover. Having her as my daughter has truly been a journey and a blessing.
I, of course, have to make accommodations and modifications for her, which I gladly do. For example, loud noises really trouble her. Because of this, I don’t take her to places I know will be loud. She also struggles with excessively crowded places, because her senses are overloaded with stimulation. I choose to take her to places at specific times of the day, when I know there will be less people there.
Rainbows has a kind and caring staff that truly seeks to help their clients have a better life and adjust to their current situations. It is a great organization. If it wasn’t for Rainbows, my daughter would not be receiving the tools and resources we need. One issue I struggle with at home is providing an outlet or means for Kheridan to express how she is feeling. Because she has a hard time managing and controlling her emotions, if she becomes upset and is unable to communicate that to me, it can lead to an extended outburst. Rainbows has connected us to resources, like an iPad, that teaches her how to deal with her emotions or encourages her to re-channel her emotions into an educational incentive instead. Many of the necessary tools we have now, I could not afford on my own, as a single mom. Thank you Rainbows.