Meet my friend—my baby sister—Ivy Moore.
Yes, she is my biological sister (same momma, different daddy) … she’s also one of my closest friends and trusted colleagues … and she is hands down one of the FUNNIEST, most brilliant moms I know!
Ivy and I (along with my older sister and my brother) were taught from a very young ago to take care of each other. And we do, still to this day.
Ivy is six years younger than me, but she always had my back. When Momma would come for me, Ivy would try to protect me with her tears. When Momma would lock me on the back porch, Ivy would slip me a book, so I could read. It was a small mercy, but also a deeply-appreciated kindness that still touches my heart in a private way.
No matter what, my oldest sister, my brother, Ivy, and myself fight for each other, protect each other, and are there for each other when we need it most. Loyalty is how we express our love.
And in that spirit of that love and loyalty, I’m writing today about Ivy … because I’ve had the honor of watching her grow over all these years, and #realtalk: she is an INSPIRATION.
And if you’re the parent of a child with Autism (or on the spectrum, or you THINK you might be), what I’m sharing today will probably be even closer to your heart.
For more than 10 years, Ivy worked in the non-profit sector. She was burnt out, y’all. (#beenthere) So Ivy decided that she would go back to corporate, working as a case manager for one of the biggest health insurance companies in the country. She knew it would be an adjustment, but it offered more security AND it was less stressful – and Ivy was dealing with enough stress, at home.
It was around this time that Ivy started noticing that things were a bit off with her youngest son (we’ll call him “J”), who was two years old at the time. He started having behavioral issues. He wouldn’t play with other children at all. His speech wasn’t developing – he only communicated with single-word phrases. It was impossible to potty train him, and he couldn’t eat without assistance. If he wanted something, he would just scream. There were times when everything felt like a fight … even combing or washing his hair. Taking him out in public was something else altogether.
Yes, Ivy had noticed these things, but suddenly, it was like she had all these pieces of a really intricate puzzle, and she was trying to put them all into place by herself. She was watching her two-year-old son exist in his own world as a baby instead of a toddler.
It was SO HARD for Ivy to watch her son struggle so much, with EVERYTHING. Even sitting still.
But Ivy’s love for her son was her driving force, from Day 1 …
So Ivy took him to his pediatrician. Diagnosis: nothing! The doc thought nothing of it, and sent Ivy home with the same challenges and concerns she came in with.
Fast forward: A close family friend who happened to be going to school at the time to earn her master’s in social work noticed certain behaviors in Ivy’s son that, in her opinion, could indicate Asperger’s, and suggested they have him tested.
Ivy felt discouraged when she heard that … her husband, on the other hand, was in complete denial. He wanted to rely only on faith.
But Ivy’s Momma Instinct kicked in, and she decided to take her friend’s advice. She reached out to her son’s doctor again. His reaction: it was too soon to test and that “all children progress at different paces.” Ivy followed her gut, and persisted … she became adamant about her son’s need for an evaluation by a specialist.
Finally, she was given a referral to Kennedy Krieger Institution, where her son underwent a series of evaluation that ruled out ADD, ADHD, and general behavior-related issues. He was then put on a waiting list to be seen at CARD (Centers for Autism Related Disorders).
But Ivy wasn’t about to sit around, waiting.
She started researching and pursuing any and every Autism resource in the state of Maryland. If there was a webcast, study, Facebook group, community center, or playgroup associated with Autism, Ivy participated. She immersed herself in educating herself about the disorder.
In fact, by the time he was “officially” diagnosed seven months later, Ivy’s son had already been part of a nationwide (non-medicated) study for a new therapy for children with Autism! Ivy had also already gotten an IEP (Individualized Education Program) in place for her son to ensure his success at school.
J is now six years old and doing AMAZING!
He is in a “normal” classroom setting with “typical” children, and he’s able to participate and follow directions just as his peers are able to. He is excelling academically; he reads at a sixth-grade level, girl! He can write in cursive and with both hands.
His “meltdowns” are much less frequent. He loves music and can read it and write music notes. He uses the bathroom independently, and no longer has accidents. He can eat on his own with both a fork and a spoon. He now has a small vocabulary, and communicates more. His loves? Positive affirmations (#hollaatyourboy!) and technology, and he’s a master at it!
Here’s the thing, sis … J is excelling, because Ivy made Autism his ADVANTAGE.
That’s why I’m honoring her today.
Yes, we all want the most for our kids. But Ivy became his ultimate advocate. She didn’t wait for doctors. She didn’t accept her circumstances the way they were.
Ivy actually Defied Impossible.
One time I asked Ivy how she did it all. How she never gave up … never gave in.
She thanks God.
She said, “I thank God for loving me enough to give me the experiences of challenges from my older children to prepare me for my biggest miracle. Without God, I would not have been able to stand in this long, nor stand for my children the way I have.”
THAT’S my girl Ivy. My baby sister.
If you didn’t join us for our Mother’s Day Celebration on Facebook this past weekend, go check it out right now … I want you to meet her …
And get ready to LAUGH. I’m telling you, it was SO MUCH FUN!
Then, post below if you have any comments for Ivy.
We lift each other UP, as sisters, and I’m sure Ivy would love to hear from you!
With all the love my heart can hold…