Lifting Others: Julie Hornok
Meet our first mom, Julie Hornok, Founder of United in Autism, award winning author, and most importantly, a Mom to her daughter, Lizzie. When her daughter was diagnosed with autism, Julie jumped into action to start a home -based therapy program which, in time, led to her non-profit, her book United in Autism: Finding Strength inside the Spectrum, event planning, and so much more.
Tell us about your child with special needs.
My daughter, Lizzie, displayed all the classic signs of autism and was diagnosed days after her second birthday. After years and years of therapy, now at seventeen years old, she is driving, has a paid job, and is a cheerleader at her school. She has the kindest heart to help others, and I am so grateful she allows me to share both the hard stuff and the joy in our lives to bring hope to those “a few steps behind us.”
What are some adjustments you have made to make vacationing with your family successful?
When Lizzie was young, vacationing was so, so exhausting! I planned out every detail of our schedule and made a social story with real pictures of everything we were going to experience (way in advance) to go over with her. We also learned to limit the transitions, so, for example, if we were going the beach, we stayed on the beach to avoid extra car rides.
What are some things you do regularly to take care of yourself?
I try to think of things I can either add in or let go within the natural flow of my already-existing day. When my kids were little, I chose to add in something for me (usually junk TV and junk food…yes, I am that fancy) while they napped instead of cleaning the house. I also chose to let go of the things that weren’t worth my energy, like something negative someone said to me.
What made you realize you needed to get away on your own, too?
It took me a really long time to realize leaving my kids for a short time actually made me a better wife and mom. It is rejuvenating to be able to only worry about myself and my own needs. At first, there is the “momguilt”, then the awkward feeling of not knowing how to be without my kids, but then a sense of reconnection with myself kicks in, and I am grateful I made the effort.
How did this lead to taking care of other moms?
Once Lizzie became more independent, I started a non-profit to plan events for special needs moms to both reconnect with themselves and connect with other moms living the same journey. Now, I am so excited to partner with Lisa and Kate to create a full weekend retreat just for special needs moms!
How can we connect with you? My book, United in Autism: Finding Strength Inside the Spectrum (foreword by Temple Grandin), is available on my website http://www.unitedinautism.com/, Amazon, or anywhere books are sold online.
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/unitedinautism
Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/unitedinautism
Twitter – https://twitter.com/UnitedinAutism
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This post originally appeared on our July/August 2020 Magazine