Actor Kathryn Morris (whom you may know from Cold Case) announced the birth of her twin boys, Jameson West Messner and Rocco McQueen Messner, in 2013. Her twins live with autism, and while she’s faced challenges, she also has reason to hope — which is why she announced on TODAY the exclusive news about her initiative to offer education and support to other kids and families living with autism. She’s named her initiative The Savants.
Extremely grateful for the interview today on @todayshow. Now more than ever is our opportunity to turn awareness into action both for parents and the community with the launch of my new initiative The Savants. Sign up for our newsletter at https://t.co/jebyXSFWPc https://t.co/ZNLEl0eAyc
— Kathryn Morris (@kathrynmorris) October 20, 2021
In her post on Twitter, she says: “Now more than ever is our opportunity to turn awareness into action both for parents and the community with the launch of my new initiative The Savants.”
The Savants site follows the journey of Morris and her twins in what is described as a “victorious story of hope and cutting-edge wellness.” This initiative is revolutionary in that it seeks to inspire action, while delivering “autism inclusive” content and resources. Perhaps most important of all, this is a place for “real world conversations” centered around challenges but also offering solutions.
In her live interview on TODAY, she said, “Eight years ago, I gave birth to healthy twin boys. Eighteen months later we took a deep dive into the abyss of autism spectrum disorders.” She explains, “Like many women, for a long time I was in career mode, with the baby thing not on my radar….Then I wanted more, and the dream of motherhood appeared. I fell in love. We had twins. I was complete.”
While the diagnosis of her twins with autism at age 3 was a “bombshell times two,” she says, “My children are perfect. I cannot imagine them without their autism — their brilliant traces of ‘just being’ on that spectrum has made me a better mother and person.”
Morris admits that she had the resources to “put her life on the back burner.” She did not stop until she found treatment and help for her boys. She also knows that not everyone has those resources; she says that the very mention of the word autism “paralyzes and polarizes.” It’s true that there’s no instruction manual, and we’re all still trying to figure out what being on the spectrum really means.
But, it’s not really what you can call “rare.” Some 1 in 54 kids have been identified as having autism spectrum disorder (ASD). And, just like that, Morris was connected to a whole community of fellow moms who were all seeking early intervention therapies. It was a secret society, but the personal and financial struggles of these families are often overlooked or ignored as though they’re “invisible.”
She says, “I was relentless about finding specialists, advocates, special education attorneys — and trying to ‘Erin Brockovich it’ for my friends.”
What Made The Difference?
What turned the tide for Morris and her boys was when a fellow mom slipped her the number for a biomedical specialist. Although insurance didn’t cover the costs, she claimed it would work. So Morris made an appointment. She says that it was a “miracle.” As she explains: “I was escorted behind the velvet ropes into solutions for my sons’ chronic illnesses: specialized diets, authorizations for behavioral and ‘adaptive life skill,’ neurological referrals for the twins.”
That happy discovery made all the difference in the world for her sons, giving them back to her in some sense. She found hope. It also opened her eyes to a whole other world of experiences in the Autism Community, one fraught with discrimination, financial ruin, isolation, depression, sedation, and even fatalities. And yes, there are the struggles with meltdowns and scary, even violent, interactions between autistic kids and their families.
For many families, the challenges aren’t getting any better; the pressures are just mounting. Morris says, “The pandemic has only intensified the desperate need for support, a safety net, and resources for people with autism and their families. The autism community deserves more than acceptance — they deserve action.”
Amid such a dark and stressful time, Morris offers a story of hope, a light in the darkness. And that’s why she’s sharing her story. She wants The Savants initiative “to shine a light on the people of the autism community.”
What are your thoughts on Kathryn Morris and her Savants initiative? We’d love to hear your comments below.
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