Founder Mishon Johnson is a California native and mother of three boys (two of which are on the autism spectrum) first began advocating for her 2nd born son, Cole, who was diagnosed with autism at the age of 2. The transition of advocating was helped tremendously by her instinctive background in the child development field for over 15 years. After many parents in similar situations continued to ask her for advice, she decided to help spread her knowledge by creating Our Stars Inc.
Q&A with Mishon
Q: When did you suspect that Cole was on the Autism Spectrum?
A: It was around 11 to 12 months that I noticed how he had some regression in his language, had stopped saying “Momma” and had really no speech at all. Also, he would give very little eye contact. And transitioning from one activity to the next was very difficult for him.
Q: What was your next step after you noticed those changes?
A: In the beginning, I always brought up my concerns to his pediatrician about him having a possible delay. Her response was to take the wait and see approach. But, I was very persistent about his care and that’s when he was referred to a Speech and Audiology center. I immediately did research and found that my local Regional Center provided Early Start Intervention services. It took them 3 months to diagnose my son.
Q: What are some of the difficulties you face as a parent in dealing with the public?
A: I have had people stare at us and roll their eyes, while Cole would be having a meltdown. At other times, some people are very understanding and there are some who are not.
Q: What lead you to create OUR STARS INC. for autism?
A: Researching is a passion that I love. During my journey through autism, I have come across so many different programs and services for children with special needs. I felt that finding the right services when your child is newly diagnosed could be very overwhelming, and I wanted to share my knowledge with others. Also, there was nothing in my community that really brought families who deal with autism together.
Q: Is there any advice you would offer to parents who think their children might be affected by autism?
A: Firstly, bring up your concerns to the doctor. No one knows your child better than you. Contact your local Regional Center or find an Early Intervention Program to also help. Try and connect with other autism families to get feedback from them because early intervention and support are very important.
Q: Anything else you want to share?
A: Many months ago, I started my youngest son, Evan into Early Start and have made an appointment for an Autism Assessment. His signs were somewhat different from his brother’s. He too has a speech delay, and some sensory issues. He is always on the go, he moves from one activity to the next without taking time to explore.
Q: Final Comments?
A: As a parent who has children on the spectrum, I can relate to other parents and guardians who are on their journeys. It is my hope that Our Stars Inc. will be of a great help to the community as we build lifelong relationships together.