Where Do You Live?

Indian Trail, North Carolina

Tell Us About Your Family…

My husband Brad and I have four children: Ben (11), Anna (10), Emily (8), and Caleb (7). My husband manages his family’s greenhouse. I stay home and homeschool the oldest three children. Caleb, who has autism, goes to 1st grade at Porter Ridge Elementary. My husband and I are the founders of Signposts Ministries. We have multiple diagnoses in our family, but since March’s disability focus is autism, we’ll just mention that diagnosis today. Our family enjoys taking care of animals. We have a dog, cat, snake, chickens, and donkeys. Our family does typical things. We do schoolwork and housework. In the spring and summer we try to garden. The children pursue their personal interests in their free time. Caleb’s personal interests right now are Legos and Minecraft. I find these to be fairly popular recreational activities among children who have autism. I assume because visual processing is often a strong point for them and they are able to visualize the creations they want to make.

How Has Autism Impacted Your Family?

Autism creates a learning experience for everyone. Caleb’s learning experience has revolved around how to best communicate how he perceives things with the rest of the family and how to tolerate the changes in routine that happen in normal family life.

The other members experience has involved learning about Autism Spectrum Disorder and the ways it makes communication, social, and behavioral skills a challenge. We are able to recognize behaviors that are classic to autism (or specific to Caleb) and interpret them correctly. For example, if Caleb is uncomfortable in a situation that is too loud, instead of asking others to be quieter, he may start yelling himself. If we recognize what is happening, we are able to help him recognize what is happening, and remind him to express his discomfort in a way that most people communicate, by using specific language.

Sometimes people with autism assume you think the same things they think, and they don’t see the need for clear communication. They may even assume that when you respond to a situation differently than them, there is something wrong with your response. I think autism given all of us practice in extending grace to others who do things differently.

How Do You Participate In Your Community?

We attend Idlewild Baptist Church in Matthews, so you can find us there most Sundays. My husband and I teach Children’s Church several months out of the year. Caleb (and his siblings) love to go to their weekly gymnastics class at Carolina Gymnastics Center in Indian Trail. My daughter also participates in wheelchair basketball with The Rollin’ Hornets. Of course we also go to events for Porter Ridge Elementary.

What Would You Tell A Local Family With A New Diagnosis?

Our area has so many resources, it is a great place to live with a diagnosis of autism. If you are unsure where to find something- the right pediatrician, a new therapist, adaptive recreational activities, a disability friendly church- please contact Signposts Ministries. We have resource lists that we are happy to share with you.


Donahue Family