My Milestones

My Milestones – Irene Jones, Josiah’s House

Irene Jones is an incredible example of a local parent who turned a personal passion into a service for her community.

“I am the type of person who loves a challenge. When someone says to me that it can’t be done, I am determined to make it happen.”

In 2008, Jones created a supportive, productive space for individuals like her son Josiah.

“My son Josiah is the reason Josiah’s House came about – he was diagnosed with autism at the age of three; he is now 30 years young. He is my drive, my inspiration in moving forward with the vision.”

After his diagnosis, Jones found the existing network of resources to not be as beneficial to her family as she hoped. This sprung her into action; it wasn’t long until Jones decided to quit her job as an RTA bus driver so she could discharge her son from his group home and dedicate her time to providing the developmental care he needed. While learning how to take care of her son, Jones immersed herself in learning about treatment and the needs of the autism community at large. She earned her certification from the Ohio Dept. of Developmental Disabilities and began to build what is now known as Josiah’s House.
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My Milestones – 2018 Annual Benefit Honoree, Steve Wexberg, MD

As an exceptional pediatrician with an impressive passion for serving his community, 2018 Benefit honoree Steve Wexberg, MD has dedicated the majority of his life to supporting local families through his every-day practice.

Wexberg has become a reliable resource for the autism community here in Cleveland, using his knowledge and authority on behavioral and developmental disorders to seek out new, collaborative solutions to support life-long healthcare for individuals with autism.

Wexberg has been a key player on the Milestones Board of Directors since 2006, lending his perspective and guidance in an effort to shape one of Milestones’ core offerings, the Milestones National Autism Conference.

“Steve has been passionate about the necessity to consider and plan for the medical needs of adults with autism. He has done so much to assist Milestones in creating an educational space for health professionals at the conference for them to gain ongoing medical education around autism,” said Ilana Hoffer Skoff, Executive Director of Milestones Autism Resources.
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My Milestones – 2018 Benefit Honoree Phillip Irvin

Phillip Irvin, a dedicated father of two and a true champion for the local autism community, uses his invaluable perspective to help others on a similar journey as his.

Irvin’s relationship with Milestones first started when his family sought resources to help his son. Now, Irvin is an active leader on the Milestones Board of Directors and has served as Milestones’ Treasurer, Co-Chair of Milestones’ annual Strike It Big bowling event, and on multiple committees.

“Phillip brings energy, enthusiasm and a fresh perspective to all of his involvements with Milestones,” stated Milestones Operation Director Mia Buchwald Gelles. “He gets so excited about helping families with autism and is constantly seeking to raise the bar with what we can accomplish.”

What has been the most rewarding part of being involved with Milestones?
Helping families feel like they aren’t alone in this journey. From the shock and disbelief of a diagnosis, to school and family support, all the way to work/college transition and beyond, Milestones can help families connect with resources and others who provide a sense of community. No one needs to deal with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) alone or to feel like they are alone. Every single block in every neighborhood in all of CLE is impacted by ASD and Milestones helps connect all of those single points into a widespread community.
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My Milestones – Jenna Newman: Helping First Responders Communicate With Individuals With Special Needs

Jenna Newman of Mentor knew that if her young son with autism ever needed help or had an emergency, the Mentor Fire Department would be the first ones contacted. Concerned that first responders may not know how to interact with her son and children like him, Newman teamed up with the Mentor Fire Department to start a free fire safety story-time for kids with special needs. The program was designed to build relationships between local children and firefighters by including shared experiences, such as story-time, a joint activity, and a trip to the parking lot for a tour by the firefighters of firetrucks.

“My son went from not wanting to do anything with any of it, to now sitting by the firemen, high-fiving them, listening to the story and doing the activities; he is really loving the program!” said Newman. “He has made some awesome friends with these heroes.”

The fire safety story-time program was such a success that the nearby Willoughby Fire Department contacted Newman to get the program started at their station as well. However, Newman’s efforts of helping the fire departments didn’t end there. The mother of four also helped to provide new icon cards to the fire departments. These small cards, which include icons of things such as people and body parts, can be used by first responders to engage with individuals with communication needs, and they are now on each truck at both the Mentor and Willoughby fire departments.
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My Milestones – Could My Child Be on the Autism Spectrum?

By the age of 2, my sons were not speaking words and sentences the way other children in their preschool groups were. They each showed precocious signs of their intellectual development, such as my older son drawing and diagramming out “The Very Hungry Caterpillar” book, including writing out words like “egg,” “cocoon,” and “caterpillar.” In fact, the first time he did it at preschool I thought the teacher was joking until she showed me and my son did it in front of me. However, he only spoke a handful of words for his age, so we had him assessed and indeed he needed and benefited from speech therapy. By the age of 4 both of my sons were speaking so well my husband and I joked that it that it seemed hard to believe we were so worried about their speech.

In our case, one son has autism, while the other had speech delays that were resolved with speech therapy. The son with autism was having social communication and sensory issues that my other son did not.

I will always remember sitting at the small table with my son’s kindergarten teacher in his classroom, knees knocking, heart beating, as she gently discussed the concerns she had about my son. She handled the moment so sensitively when she suggested I have him evaluated. I didn’t know much about autism beyond inaccurate stereotypes in movies. What could it mean for my child and his future?
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