At 28 months, University of Wisconsin-River Falls alum Lindsey Moreland was diagnosed with autism after showing classic signs, including not responding to her name and banging her head against walls.
“It was devastating,” recalls Lauri Moreland, Lindsey’s mother. “We called it the death penalty. There was nothing good to read about autism. A social worker told us Lindsey would likely be living in an institution. Everything was what she was not going to do.
Now 28, Lindsey understands how much autism has shaped her.
“Autism is my superpower,” Lindsey often notes. April is recognized as Autism Awareness Month.
In 2011, Lindsey’s freshman year in high school, she saw Temple Grandin speak at UWRF. Grandin is an author, professor and lecturer on autism and animal behavior.
From there, her family decided it was time to tell Lindsey’s story using Grandin’s example and finding acceptance in herself.
“We don’t always know why certain therapies work for Lindsey and not for someone else,” Lauri said. “Don’t judge people. You never know what a family is up against. Now we know life is better with autism.
Lindsey, who lives independently in River Falls, is an author, motivational speaker and artist.
Her most recent children’s book, which she co-wrote with her aunt, Linda Wagner, “Little Lindsey is a Picky Eater,” is available on Target.com. Lindsey, who graduated from UWRF with an associate degree in December, works as a guest attorney at Hudson Target.
“I love shopping there,” Lindsey said. “My colleagues are really nice and very accepting of who I am. Target accepts differences and is also inclusive.
During speaking engagements, Lauri, Lindsey, and Lindsey’s sister, Brittany Moreland, share their stories. Brittany has been diagnosed with epilepsy, mental health issues and learning disabilities.
“By sharing our family story of living with autism and mental health issues, I hope to inspire others to live, survive and thrive in today’s society,” Lindsey said. “I’m also on a mission to raise awareness about bullying and accept differences. Understanding each other better is a great way to share acceptance.
The three will speak at UWRF from 6-7:30 p.m. on Wednesday, April 27 in North Hall Auditorium on “Autism: A Family Lives Beyond the Label.” The event is free and open to all. It is hosted by Disability Rights Education Activism Mentoring.
The family’s first published book was in 2017. “Autism: A Family Lives Beyond the Label, The Lindsey Moreland Story” contains chapters written from the perspective of different family members. Lindsey writes that she learned for the first time that she had autism, Britany, Lauri and Lindsey’s father, Todd Moreland, grandmother, Ida Feyereisen and Wagner.
Wagner, a 1993 graduate of UWRF with a bachelor’s degree in elementary education and a teaching certificate in elementary Spanish teaching, teaches 3rd grade at Hudson.
Wagner said she witnessed the challenges Lindsey’s family faced as Lindsey grew up.
“As a mother, teacher, and aunt, I searched for books that could help families with autism,” Wagner said. “I found very little and knew there was a need for more information in the world of autism. Lindsey has worked hard to become a successful adult in a world that doesn’t always understand children. needs of people with learning differences.The support she has received along the way has been amazing from family, friends, therapists, teachers and even strangers.
Lauri asked Wagner to help tell their family’s story. The goal was to write it with the goal of giving others hope and sharing their family’s struggles along the way. Lindsey volunteered in Wagner’s class several years ago, and in one of Lindsey’s classes at UWRF, she made a children’s book about autism.
“My students at the time loved it and were very curious,” Wagner said. “They wondered why there weren’t more books about children with autism, especially children’s stories. As a result, the idea for the Little Lindsey series was born. Lindsey helps me as a writer understand how difficult it was for her with certain daily experiences. I test the books on my students and my family before making any final decisions.
Lindsey also has another children’s book “Little Lindsey Gets a Haircut”. All books are illustrated by Jodi Youngman, a North Hudson artist.
“I thought children’s books would be educational and more from the point of view if there was a child with special needs, it would help other children understand,” Lindsey said.
The family is planning a third children’s book later this year where little Lindsey will make a friend.
Lindsey also creates art in graphic pencil, pen and ink, colored pencil and acrylic paint.
“Being an artist is my gifted talent,” Lindsey said. “I started to develop my talent around the age of 13. Unlike other kids my age who sold lemonade on the street corner, I tried to sell my art. Although it didn’t go as well as I hoped, I continued to pursue my art through middle school, high school, and beyond. The inspiration for my designs comes from my passions. I am fascinated by Titanic details, still life drawings, famous celebrities and animals. Depending on the topic, topic and my mood, these drawings help me communicate with the world.
To learn more about Lindsey’s story, view her artwork, and learn more about her books, go to autismlm.com.
Written by UW-River Falls University Communications and Marketing
Link to original story: https://www.uwrf.edu/News/AlumschildrensbooksshareautismjourneyfamilytospeakoncampusApril27.cfm