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Episode #095: A Family’s Autism Journey- A Chat with Autumn Ziemba


utumn Ziemba was working as a news anchor for Fox 8 News when her son received his autism diagnosis. Through her family journey and support in the autism community, Autumn has shifted careers to become the Communications and Content Manager for Milestones Autism Resources.

As a mother of two, Autumn knew what to expect for typical development in her young children. When her youngest started showing signs of regression, loss of speech, disinterest in typical play, and others around her began to notice too, it was time for an evaluation. With the support of her family’s pediatrician, her son was able to receive a diagnosis at age 2 and a half. This was in 2017 and the times were different when it came to support, resources, and services. Her son started with play-based ABA and speech therapy for one hour a week, not nearly enough. To add to their hardship, just three months post-diagnosis her son was diagnosed with Leukemia. Their focus had to shift from early intervention to cancer treatment. After the early days and weeks of treatment, their family was able to bring back ABA therapy and other services. Now at 7 years old, Autumn’s son is a Leukemia-Survivor and attending school in a special needs classroom with great support from their school district.

As a parent who has been through so much with her son and her family, Autumn’s biggest advice to professionals, providers, teachers, and anyone working with autism families is to have empathy. For her empathy, compassion, and understanding goes a long way. I’ve seen firsthand professionals and other parties be less than supportive of families with questions, and agendas. But Autumn reminds us that parents are coming in with only their children’s best interest at heart, and it’s important to understand that.

For families just beginning their autism journey whether pre or post-diagnosis: Do not fear the diagnosis. Autumn shares that while a concrete diagnosis can feel scary, it can actually open up doors to resources, services, and support that you wouldn’t otherwise have. Take each day as it comes, and remember not every approach will work for every child. Meet your child in the middle and allow them to be a part of their own team!

If you’d like to find out more about Autumn Ziemba you can find her family’s autism story online, as well as her contact information on the Milestones website.

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Today’s Guest:

Autumn Ziemba brings more than 20 years of journalism and media relations experience to the team at Milestones Autism Resources, as the Communications and Content Manager. She has won regional Emmy and Associated Press awards for her work in television reporting and anchoring across the state of Ohio. Most recently, she spent 12 years at Fox 8 News in Cleveland.

Autumn is the proud mom of two kids: an 11-year-old daughter, and a 7-year-old autistic son who is also a leukemia survivor. It was her son’s diagnosis in 2017 that spawned her advocacy for children with special and medical needs. Autumn and her husband Mark received the Milestones Community Leader award in 2021 for their work to increase autism education, awareness, and the Milestones mission.

In addition to her work at Milestones, Autumn is very active with the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society and was a candidate for the organization’s 2022 Woman of the Year. She and her husband also founded and run the Operation SiFi holiday toy drive for patients at Cleveland Clinic Children’s Hospital.

Autumn is a Hinckley native (yes, the home of the buzzards!) and a graduate of Highland High School. She received a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Ohio University. She is a storyteller at heart and is honored to highlight the unique stories of autistic individuals and those who love and support them.

What’s Inside:

  • Autumn Ziemba and her family’s autism journey.
  • Seeing the early signs of autism.
  • Navigating resources and services post-diagnosis.
  • Tips for professionals communicating with parents.
  • Advice for autism families.

Mentioned In This Episode

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