Keegan, Caydence and Brandi Hembruff




In an effort to create a better understanding of Autism Spectrum Disorder, we have created this "Faces For Autism" blog. Here, you can share an in depth, no holds barred look into the day to day triumphs, struggles and real world stories  not only from individuals with Autism but also you; the people in their lives that support them.

Every face is a different story and we would like to encourage YOU to send us yours.

This week's inspiring Autism Story comes from our friends Keegan, Caydence and Brandi.




Keegan is a vibrant, loud and enthusiastic comedian.  He is silly, sarcastic and extremely intelligent.  He has a memory like no other and is compassionate and loving.  

Keegan hates to wait.  He believes his body is allergic to it.  He can’t manage the concept of losing and has a temper so passionate that his body will physically vibrate when he is elevated.  

Having your first child is a process for any parent.  You abruptly go from me to we.  How is it that someone you have never met can become the soul focus of your entire world?  Both Keegan’s Dad and I were excited but terrified.  And then there he was in all his glory, cranky and cute.  

As Keegan grew, we saw lags in his development.  Slowly we were referred to community agency supports to better understand why he was not meeting developmental goals.  The gaps in his development became greater, he dragged instead of crawled, had trouble with gross motor skills and was constantly overstimulated by everything.  

We put him in every social group, said yes to every birthday party, and created countless play date opportunities.  Social skills were hard for him and we often left abruptly in a screaming fury of tantrums, with Keegan in a football hold to the car.   

Preschool was an eye opener.  The teachers were very quick to ask that Keegan be put forward for support in the classroom and it was almost as if our fears were confirmed.  Our kid was different and we had no idea what that meant.

Shortly after that, we were asked to have him professionally assessed.  Like many parents, we sat in an office with doctors who looked at our child for the first time making judgements and measuring behaviors.  The diagnosis was PDD-NOS, Autism Spectrum Disorder.  

Hmmm…. now what?   What does this mean?  How can I make it better?  Fix it.

Support came in waves after that.  But it was the process that was important.  The diagnosis was like a trauma for me.  Trauma from the idea that I would not have the son that could do all the things I hoped and wished.  But that was the mistake.  As I moved through the stages of grief around Keegan not being what I wanted him to be, I learned that he was so much more.  

I became part of his journey.  He started to teach me how to see the world differently, how to be humble and seek to understand behaviors.  Then we started to see progress in his therapies too.  Don’t get me wrong, the intensity of the work involved for us as a family was high, but we did it together.   

I always thank Keegan for teaching me how to be a mom, the kind of mom I was meant to be.  He tells me often that his sister is lucky he taught me so well.  

In our home we do smiles.  We do 30 second dance parties with air guitar and  peach wave frozen yogurt karaoke on Fridays.  We read Geronimo Stilton  before bed, have movie nights and epic tickle wars.  We have disagreements and apologies, we yell and we laugh.  We love each other and say it often.  Best of all, we celebrate Autism, because to our family, it is a super-power!


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