In honor of Autism Awareness Month, MGA Home Healthcare is pleased to feature a special Q+A with Julie Wismann. Julie is the proud mother of MGA Denver patient Kara, a non-verbal 16-year-old girl with severe autism, cognitive delays, and epilepsy. She is also an advocate for special needs children through her self-created communication workbooks and passion company, Kara’s Voice.

Read on to learn more about Julie’s unique journey as a parent to a child with autism and special needs.

“Autism can be amazing. Keeping that perspective has helped bring me peace during the hardest of times.”

Can you introduce yourself and your daughter to our readers?

My name is Julie and I have a beautiful 16-year-old daughter named Kara. Kara is a happy teenage girl who was diagnosed with severe autism, irretractable epilepsy, and severe developmental delays at age 2. She is also non-verbal. Kara has two younger siblings, Harley and Mia, and one older brother, Eric. We also have an exceptional furry friend named Klondike, who is a retired service dog.

What has been the greatest (or one of the greatest) accomplishments you’ve had together?

One of the greatest accomplishments we’ve had is learning how to adapt as a family through the unpredictable challenging behaviors that can accompany autism, the clusters of seizures that affect everyday life, and the added challenge of Kara not having a solid form of communication and understanding. The key has been teaching everyone (including myself) how to adapt, accept, and be understanding with compassion, patience, and love.

What have you learned from raising a child with autism?

Raising a child with autism is hands down the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life. It is also the most rewarding. What I’ve learned the most about raising Kara, and about autism, is that there is amazing, fulfilling joy in just the smallest of things – whether it be a milestone moment of letting me brush her hair ten strokes today instead of five, or sharing an emotion when stopping to really feel how cool sand feels between your fingers and toes, or that she’s able to communicate with me in some new way, even if it is just one new word. It’s so hard to describe. She’s so hard to describe. Autism can be amazing. Keeping that perspective has helped bring me peace during the hardest of times.

With what therapies have you had the most success?

Our most successful therapies have been behavioral, occupational and music therapies. Honestly, being able to utilize all three at once is where it’s at! The board-certified behavior analysts (BCBAs) and occupational therapists we’ve worked with have been instrumental in getting Kara to where she is today. She’s progressed from severe and angry abusive behaviors to a more mature understanding of how to best regulate herself and gain more independence. Music has just been an added bonus!

How do the home care services you receive impact your, and your child’s, quality of life?

The home care services we receive help to give us ALL a better quality of life. We are able to spend more time as a family and enjoy things that we may never have gotten to enjoy before.

A special thank you to Julie for sharing her story. You can learn more about Julie and Kara’s journey and how they’ve learned to thrive at www.karasvoice.com.