The Parents Autistic Alliance Network was started in 2020 by Jennifer and Jesse Erickson, proud parents of Neloh and his sister Mnemosyne. Jennifer Erickson was introduced to community organizing while working in the communications team of the organization, Candidly Speaking. Dr. Jesse Erickson is an assistant professor and librarian. Originally from Los Angeles, California they currently reside in Newark, Delaware.
In 2017, the anticipation of an autism diagnosis for their son led to a routine survey of the forums, blogs, and literature produced by other “autism parents.” In a serious departure from the general consensus around cure seeking and coping, however, they sought out new perspectives on acceptance, those inclusive of Autistic voices.
By the time Neloh received his ASD diagnosis, his parents had become familiar with the growing body of work coming out of the autistic community. They read books from authors like Naoki Higashida, Ido Kedar, and Melanie Yergeau, and they watched documentaries that centered Austitc stories like Citizen Autistic (2013). This educational trajectory helped them reframe the diagnosis in a positive light and appreciate the neurodiversity that their son both embodied and represented. They were surprised, however, to discover many professionals and individuals in the autism parenting community were unaware of a thriving number of Autistic writers, artists, creators, and activists working to change ableist misconceptions. As parents, their lives have been incalculably enriched by engaging with this body of work, helping them to forge a deeper connection with their son. Since that time, the power of acceptance has inspired them to work toward connecting other parents who seek to cultivate Autistic pride in their home.