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Partner Spotlight

Partner Spotlight: Kim Hoffner, Campaign Champion
A Mother’s Intuition – One Person Can Make a Difference


Kim Hoffner had a feeling that her son, Colin, was not developing social and cognitive skills at the same rate as other children. His lack of language made this evident from the age of 15 months. He was observed by his doctor and parents until his 2-year-old well baby visit when it was recommended that he begin speech therapy for a language delay.

After having speech therapy for several months, it became clear to Kim that Colin was socially detached; he was completely unaware of the world around him. Additionally, he was extremely sensitive to smells and was unusually picky about food.

At age 3, Colin was diagnosed with pervasive development disorder not otherwise specified (PDD-NOS). Finally getting a diagnosis of this autism spectrum disorder (ASD), his mother had direction and could begin focusing on therapy.

Kim and her husband immediately decided to be as active as possible to ensure that Colin was able to receive the best care and services available. Kim began to do research about PDD-NOS and other ASDs to ensure that he would have the best chance of reaching his full potential.

As the Hoffners moved forward with Colin’s therapy and schooling, Kim began to be much more aware of the signs of ASDs. She began noticing how other children around her had potential signs of an ASD.

“Through my research, I became so aware of the indicators for autism spectrum disorders that I saw kids all around me who were displaying potential red flags,” says Kim. “I started to wonder why this happens when it seems we should have the best and most innovative research at our fingertips. I thought, ‘How can I get involved to help parents become more aware?’”

After learning about the CDC’s “Learn the Signs. Act Early.” campaign through the National Alliance for Autism Research’s website, Kim read about the campaign’s Kit Distribution Week that was designed to educate local health professionals about the importance of developmental milestones. (During Kit Distribution Week, which was held in April 2005, campaign champions nationwide helped distribute health care professional kits to doctors in their areas to educate them about the importance of awareness of early developmental milestones and warning signs of potential problems.)

As part of this effort, Kim distributed 27 health care professional kits to doctors at local hospitals and clinics, including the Cleveland Clinic, Akron Children’s Hospital and University Hospitals of Cleveland. She received positive and encouraging responses from most of the doctors she met with. Kim found that they welcomed the materials and were glad to have such helpful tools.

“I was amazed at how much educational information these kits contained for health care professionals,” says Kim. “I feel that these materials enable doctors and parents to build a bridge of knowledge in understanding each individual child, resulting in a developmentally healthy, unique child. There is no greater reward than the realization that I have helped another family. As parents, we must take the initiative in our child’s overall development. There is a crucial need to help people, and one person really can make a difference – I did.”

For more information on how you can reach out to health professionals in your area, visit the How to Get Involved page of the “Learn the Signs. Act Early.” website.

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