Celebrating 20 Years: The Gedeon Family and Milestones Over the Years
Posted on 04/13/22 in Supporting the Mission by Autumn Ziemba
This June we will celebrate the 20th Milestones National Autism Conference. As we reflect on our 20th anniversary, we are reminded of the many special individuals and families that we have had the honor of helping since 2002. Some of these families have been with us since the beginning, allowing us the opportunity to grow and learn together. We consider these relationships our privilege, and they serve as a reminder of our continuing purpose: to improve the lives of autistic individuals, families, caregivers, and professionals by providing autism strategies for life.
One of these special families is the Gedeons. We are honored to share their story.
Carrie Gedeon and her 17-year-old daughter, Cora, share a beautiful bond. The pair sit close together on the couch in their northeast Ohio home, finishing each other’s sentences as they share memories and accomplishments. Fourteen years of them, to be exact.
“We were overwhelmed in the beginning,” Carrie explains, referring to the moment when Cora was officially diagnosed with autism at the age of three.
Now, on the cusp of 17, Cora has a thoughtful take on her own diagnosis.
“What does autism mean to you?” Carrie asks her daughter.
“I’m special. And I’m also kind. And I’m also [respectful]. I do have a good memory, I do,” Cora answers proudly.
“Finding Milestones made all the difference, for support, evidence-based information, connecting with parents and people who understood,” Carrie says.
Carrie says she learned about Milestones from the doctor who diagnosed Cora. She went looking for support, and ended up finding so much more.
“We’ve had such a long term relationship,” Carrie smiles. “At every stage, Milestones has been with me and my family. At every milestone, Milestones has been there. Milestones and our family have been growing together.”
“I do love Milestones,” Cora agrees.
In the beginning, Carrie says, it was about connecting with parents, getting the right preschool, and going to camps. But it evolved into a partnership that then led to consultations, parent and teacher training, and later, a sense of empowerment.
“I think Cora has gotten a lot out of helping Milestones, and I know we have gotten a lot out of helping Milestones,” she says. Since Cora entered her teenage years, she and her mom have loved volunteering for Milestones together.
“Strike It Big, yes!” Cora’s eyes light up as she reminisces about some of their favorite times together. “I love to bowl.”
“Remember when we went to see Temple Grandin?” Carrie asks.
“Yeah, we sure did!” Cora says with a grin. “She is amazing. She’s really cool.”
“Are you pretty cool too?”
“Yes I am.”
One year at the Milestones National Autism Conference, Cora and her mom happily greeted attendees and handed out information.
“I remember we gave out bags,” Cora says. “And I also asked a question: have you heard of Milestones?”
“Having [Milestones as] that unbiased resource that really just has Cora’s best interest in mind has been a great sounding board over the years and, now, in planning for the future,” Carrie explains.
The future is something that’s top of mind for the family, as Cora is getting ready to start her senior year of high school this fall. Once again, Carrie says she’s relieved that Milestones has their back.
“We’re figuring out what happens when you become an adult. We’re working on life skills, right?” she says to Cora.
“After twelfth grade, I’m gonna go to Cardinal Lab.” Cora shares. “I’m gonna go on job sites. I want to live in an apartment with roommates.”
“I’m bracing for the fact that 18 is around the corner. We’re working on all those skills,” Carrie explains. That’s why she says she plans to rely on the Milestones Help Desk.
She’s also excited about the new Milestones Autism Planning (MAP) tool playing a role in Cora’s transition, and helping her figure out the next steps. The MAP is an online guide with resources from early childhood through adulthood.
Milestones envisions a community in which autistic individuals reach their full potential as contributing members of society, recognized for their strengths and supported in their challenges.
As grateful as Carrie is for the lifelong support her family has received from Milestones, she never hesitates to give her daughter the credit she deserves.
“Cora’s a hard worker. She’s really come a long way from [age] three.”
And we are grateful to be a part of their journey.
We are honored to highlight the Gedeon family in celebration of Milestones’ 20th anniversary and as part of our Annual Fund. Donations to the Annual Fund fund the essential support the Milestones free autism Helpdesk provides to autistic individuals and families every day. To donate and make a difference to families like the Gedeons, visit milestones.org/donate.