Parents need to know that our parent consultants understand their experiences so that is why all our parent consultants have a child with a disability.

Kelly Runnalls

My life has been surrounded by disability since I was a young child when my younger brother was born with epilepsy and an intellectual disability. I grew up observing my parents struggle for a diagnosis, advocate for him and support him, which has continued into his adult years. Even as he has reached adulthood, they continue to advocate for him as barriers to meaningful employment and social activities continue. Despite the barriers and adversity he has faced in life, my brother is doing very well and enjoying his life. I have often heard my parents say that having a child with a disability is initially a grieving process as you have to mourn the child you thought you would have. Once you do, you are able to embrace the child you do have. For our family, that has certainly been true.

When I started my own family, I did not think I too would have a child with a disability. My twins, a son and a daughter, were born early. My daughter was late meeting most of her developmental milestones. My twins were followed for seven years through the Windsor Regional Hospital Neurodevelopmental Clinic. We were aware that an intellectual disability for my daughter was a possibility. At the age of six, she was diagnosed with ADHD along with a mild intellectual delay. At age 10, she was diagnosed with Asperger’s. Her twin brother also struggles with mild learning disabilities requiring extra support. I also have two younger daughters and a son. When my youngest son was five-years-old, he was too was diagnosed with Asperger’s along with a mild intellectual delay. My youngest daughter at six years old was also diagnosed with dyslexia, dysgraphia, dyscalculia and ADHD. I also pursued private therapies and supports to assist with her learning disabilities.

Finding appropriate services, therapies and support has been a journey, often in frustration. Since the wait list for Autism therapies are long, I made the choice to pursue private therapy. Both my children with autism require ongoing support with ABA therapy, tutoring and speech therapy, but continue to thrive through the help of early intervention. As a single parent, I have experienced the frustration of waiting for a diagnosis, navigating social services, long wait lists, financial challenges, and the frustration of not having information for families in one centralized location. I am passionate about early intervention for children as I have seen the amazing difference it has made for my children. I look forward to helping families along their journey.

Kelly’s educational background includes a Masters of Arts in Social Science along with a Bachelors of Education.