Lisa DeSherlia is 53 years old, married, and has been diagnosed only recently with an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). She has actually been diagnosed with Pervasive Development Disorder. Lisa also has a 14 year old daughter who has been diagnosed with Pervasive Development Disorder-Not Otherwise Specified (PDD-NOS), before age three. It was through life with her beautiful, precious daughter, that she became aware that her own developmental issues may hold an explanation. She self-diagnosed with an ASD for years before she was able, last year, to access a formal ASD screening.
Though she was as yet undiagnosed, Lisa began an autism petition on Change.org and, about a year later, on SignOn.org. Because of her own frustrating experience in finding even an ASD screening for herself as an adult, Lisa saw the need for more autism services for adults. Autism services for adults are hit-and-miss or non-existent in the US, depending on where one lives. Lisa has been aware that families of many low-income and minority children are also unable to find affordable autism services, and so she expanded her petition to include an appeal to the US government to send funds to all 50 states for families and individuals to be able to find autism services regardless of their ability to pay. Such services, she argues, would also stimulate an ailing economy through the creating of new jobs.
Because of her life experience and observation of today’s social climate, Lisa also strongly advocates for other causes besides autism and related disabilities. It was the high-profile missing child case of Haleigh Cummings, and months later, of missing Lindsey Baum (both, sadly, still missing!), that Lisa became passionate about missing children as well as missing adults. It was this awareness that moved her to use Facebook to spread awareness about these cases and others. She also was aware of and spread awareness about other disadvantaged persons, such as the poor, minorities, and those who cannot advocate for themselves. Lisa has attributed her daughter’s excellent developmental progress to her proper diagnosis and early intervention, as well as lots of early love, attention and involvement.
During these years, before and during her ASD self-diagnosis, Lisa continued to wrestle with emotional baggage carried from her childhood and teens. Because of the twists and turns her life has taken since she was able to remember, she has long been aware of she was “different.” Thus, she fought a shame-based identity, feelings of resentment, frustration, confusion, fear, guilt, and regret. Finally gaining an official diagnosis has given her relief, but she knows that much more needs to be done. Above all things, Lisa identifies herself as a Bible-believing Christian and a follower of Jesus. However, despite her own convictions, Lisa is always willing to welcome and embrace those who disagree with her.