LET'S FLIP THE SWITCH ON MENTAL ILLNESS
Braden, Mary Jo, Chris, Jessica, Shea & Ava
Braden is the 3 year-old son of Mary Jo and Chris. He is the youngest brother of three older sisters. Braden was diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) when he was two years old. This developmental disorder makes it difficult for Braden to communicate his feelings, which can result in aggressive behavior. He has spent the past year in intense therapy to help him manage the effects of the autism. His therapy also teaches his family ways to help Braden.
Mary Jo and Chris have dedicated their lives to not only helping Braden, but also to helping change perceptions about children with ASD and the families who support them. They are presently involved in helping to form a support group of parents of children with special needs.
“IF WE ALL STOPPED JUDGING WHAT WE SEE ON THE SURFACE, WE MIGHT BEGIN TO UNDERSTAND.”
- MARY JO
Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and autism are both general terms for a group of complex disorders of brain development. These disorders are characterized, in varying degrees, by difficulties in social interaction, verbal and nonverbal communication and repetitive behaviors.
ASD affects over 3 million individuals in the United States.
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Laura was diagnosed with major depression when she was 18 years old and bipolar disorder at 21.
Aaron was diagnosed with post- traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) after serving his country for five years.
Michael began using drugs at age 13 and was determined to beat his addiction at age 19; heroin changed his plans.
After multiple diagnoses, Jon was officially diagnosed with Schizoaffective disorder at 21.
Braden was diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) when he was two years old.
Christy experienced the onset of schizoaffective disorder and bipolar type in her early 20’s while serving in the military.
Nick died suddenly by suicide at the age of 25. He had no known mental health conditions.
Cindy was diagnosed with bipolar II disorder and seasonal affective disorder in her forties.
In her sophomore year at college, Karla became deeply depressed, left school, came home and attempted suicide.
Dalena and Daryn are sisters, legal guardians, and caregivers to their father who was diagnosed with bipolar disorder when the girls were young.