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Shelley Hendrix Reynolds
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Shelley Hendrix Reynolds graduated with a Bachelors of Arts degree from Mount Holyoke College in South Hadley, MA in 1991 with a double major of political science and art history. She currently resides in Baton Rouge, LA with her two children, Liam and Mairin. Liam was diagnosed with autism age the age of two in 1998.

Shortly following Liam's diagnosis, she co-founded Unlocking Autism in 1999 for the purpose of raising awareness about Autism Spectrum Disorders and the belief that autism is treatable and preventable. She serves as president of the organization. Over the years, she has been featured in numerous articles in publications throughout the country including USA Today, the Atlanta Journal, the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Washington Post, Spectrum Magazine, The Advocate, the Boston Globe, the Chicago Tribune and the New York Times and New York Daily News. On October 3 1999, she and her family appeared in a segment entitled "A Question of Harm" CNN/Time Magazine's NewsStand as well as CNN's Talk Back Live regarding the MMR vaccine and her belief that it was connected to the development of autism in her son. The CNN piece aired in 37 countries worldwide and was the first nationally televised piece to feature a connection between vaccines and autism. In 2001, Shelley appeared as a panelist on the The Montel Williams Show in a segment focused on vaccines and autism as well in March.

On April 6, 2000, she testified before the United States Congress Government Reform Committee along with a panel of parents with regard to the impact that autism had on her family, as well as her belief that vaccines led to the development of autism in her son. Author David Kirby features portions of her testimony in his book, Evidence of Harm.

In 2005, Spectrum Publications named her Person of the Year for her work within the autism community and in 2006 Spectrum named her as one of the Top 10 Faces of Autism.

In addition to her work with Unlocking Autism, Shelley has served on an advisory panel with the United States Department of Defense Autism Spectrum Disorder Research Program for Congressionally Directed Medical Research Programs since the program's inception in 2007. This program seeks to fund and develop innovative research strategies in the area of autism research with a goal of helping people with autism impacted with the disorder today.

Since September 2007, she has worked for Autism Speaks through their Autism Votes initiative, serving as their Director of State Advocacy Relations coordinating their state based legislative initiatives. She also now serves on the Advisory Board for Spectrum Publications.

In addition to her service with the autism community, Shelley is an active member of her church. She is a founding member of the Aquinas League, a non-profit organization that hosts several tennis tournaments throughout the year for the purpose of fundraising for several charities (

The views expressed in her column are her own and not necessarily reflective of the groups, organizations, boards or companies with which she is affiliated.

Entries by Shelley Hendrix Reynolds

Advocating for Independence Days

(0) Comments | Posted July 17, 2014 | 1:40 PM

On the morning of the 4th of July, I snagged a rare quiet moment on the porch while drinking my coffee. I thought about all the fun we were going to have later on that night when the kids blew up fireworks with their dad.

I thought about how...

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Getting Job-Ready With Autism

(3) Comments | Posted December 9, 2013 | 10:11 AM

Recently, a friend of mine asked me how old her child should be before she starts working on job readiness.

My answer?

Now. Right now. Do not pass GO. Take the time to stop on every single solitary square on the board, building the skills necessary for employment and...

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Acts of the Heart for #JoeMac

(4) Comments | Posted October 9, 2013 | 1:10 PM

I've been through five major hurricanes, a divorce and the diagnosis of autism for my son, but the death of my brother was the hardest thing I have experienced. It obliterated my world and my family. Not a day passes that I don't think of him in some way. When...

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Autism and Faith for a Future

(4) Comments | Posted August 12, 2013 | 12:00 PM


Growing up in a Southern home, church life was an integral part of my upbringing. Every Sunday, we would load up and travel to a different tiny country church in another county that couldn't afford a preacher. My father filled in on this traveling...

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Learning to Give Freely

(7) Comments | Posted May 10, 2011 | 12:23 PM

You brush past them every day on the sidewalk, drive past them at the end of the onramp to the freeway. The homeless.

Without having a conversation with them, you know exactly how they got that way. Drug addicts. Alcoholics. Uneducated people who failed to pull themselves up by...

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Why Every Month Should Be Breast Cancer Awareness Month

(3) Comments | Posted May 4, 2011 | 8:55 PM

On a business trip last summer, I was standing in my hotel room brushing my teeth in front of a mirror in my pajamas when I first saw it. A lump. A big one. Protruding from of my left breast. Visible through my pajama tank top.

Despite the fact...

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Oregon First State to Introduce Autism Insurance Reform in 2011

(10) Comments | Posted January 19, 2011 | 3:26 PM

And we're off!

It's easy to tell the first Monday back after the New Year in the Government Relations department at Autism Speaks. It's full of sparks as rockets start taking off in every possible angle in the race to introduce autism insurance reform legislation in the states....

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Back To School = Back To Bullies

(28) Comments | Posted September 14, 2010 | 10:56 AM

Back to school for some children means back to being bullied despite a school's anti-bullying, no tolerance policy. Kids are masters at getting in mean digs and shoves hoping to get a rise out of their fellow classmates when adults aren't looking. Children with exceptionalities, including autism, are more vulnerable...

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The Women's Deliberation Movement

(4) Comments | Posted May 7, 2010 | 12:16 PM

One week last July, I worked on Capitol Hill lobbying Congress to end the practice of marketplace discrimination against individuals with autism specifically regarding health insurance coverage. My 11 year old daughter, Mairin, was by my side. Having practically cut her teeth on politics in a home filled with grassroots...

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Home Alone With Autism

(12) Comments | Posted April 22, 2010 | 1:05 PM

"Can I stay home when you take Mairin to school in the morning, Mom, so I can sleep late?"

My son's words shot through me like a bullet stopping me dead in my tracks.

Since the day he was diagnosed with autism in April 1998, I have wondered what level...

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A Decade Of Questioning Harm And The Autism-Vaccine Connection

(709) Comments | Posted November 4, 2009 | 9:58 AM

It's hard to run a marathon that pushes you harder than you have ever been pushed -- physically, emotionally and spiritually. One for which you did not train or set out to run but one that you just woke up to find yourself running one day. One that challenges your...

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Communication Interruptus

(16) Comments | Posted October 2, 2009 | 4:39 PM

For the last decade, my heavy heart watched other children move on through their lives hitting their milestones on time while my son Liam struggled behind, knowing he wanted so badly to be in the mix but not quite finding his way. During the first 17 months of his life,...

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Kathryn the Great

(13) Comments | Posted July 2, 2009 | 10:40 AM

It was bound to happen. Adolescence. How did he get here so fast?

Just the other day my son Liam was on his way home from the hospital wrapped in a blue blanket. In a world crammed with autism -- chock full of therapy, treatments, doctor visits, specialists, learning how...

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The Autism Treatment Acceleration Act and the Autism Sandbox

(18) Comments | Posted May 31, 2009 | 6:40 PM

For years, medical professionals and educators have hailed the successes of early intervention for children with all manner of challenges. For children with autism, those challenges often require years of painstakingly, patient individualized therapy to begin to improve their symptoms. For an average of one in 68 families nationwide, finding...

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Band of Brothers Creates A Brother's Bond

(6) Comments | Posted May 19, 2009 | 3:02 PM

Growing up, my little brothers and I were the best of friends. Our family was particularly close. We rarely fought and I knew that those boys would always be there for me no matter what. We covered for each other. We learned German so we could talk to one another...

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End of the Innocence: McCain, Obama and Vaccines. Oh My!

(60) Comments | Posted October 23, 2008 | 1:26 PM

Last week, I purchased a bag of Brach's Autumn Mix for my son Liam. Even thought it was mid-October, I gave in to his sweet tooth's request with the caveat that he would have to make the whole bag of delicious candy corns and pumpkins last until Halloween day.

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Navigating the Cone of Uncertainty

(1) Comments | Posted September 25, 2008 | 12:14 PM

Louisa May Alcott once stated, "I am not afraid of storms for I am learning how to sail my ship."

Over the last ten years, I have been learning how to sail my ship in rough waters from the Hurricane of Autism blowing into my home in 1998...

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The Teeny Tiny Thanksgiving

(7) Comments | Posted November 22, 2007 | 9:46 AM

Divorce puts an interesting spin on the holidays. Six years after my initial separation, they are getting easier and more routine. I have become accustomed to either having our home roaring at 180 decibels with the swarming of children and relatives or the deafening silence that comes with being a...

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Ghoulish Negotiations

(5) Comments | Posted October 31, 2007 | 4:19 PM

Two weeks ago, Liam came bounding into the house on a Friday afternoon with something special from his teacher. Apparently, for being such a good boy in school, she had given him the opportunity to bring home the Oriental Trading Halloween 2007 catalog. She takes the motivation for him to...

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A Decent Proposal

(9) Comments | Posted October 12, 2007 | 1:54 PM

For most children, developmental milestones are met right on time. Parents dutifully record them in baby books and scrapbooks. The first smile. The first babble. The first jar of solid food. The first crawl or step. The first word. The first "Why?"

At first, all that inquisitiveness is cute....

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