We had the good fortune of connecting with Netra Ford and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Netra, what was your thought process behind starting your own business?
In 2014, my 2 year-old son was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder. An autism diagnosis is not like going to the doctor for a broken limb or high blood pressure where there is a set treatment plan. Each individual that receives an autism diagnosis is unique due to the fact that each individual will have varying abilities and functionality. One child may be verbal and able follow directions, while another child or individual may be nonverbal, therefore the treatment differs. The uncertainty of how to care for that child can be very confusing for parents and caregivers. After receiving that diagnosis, I didn’t know what to do, but thankfully, I had an amazing pediatrician that gave me access to therapeutic resources to help my son. Even though, I had that information, I still spent years going back and forth trying to find the right therapeutic and socialization fit for my son. As a parent, I wanted to make sure that I was doing all that I could to give my son everything he needed to thrive. I started Exceeding Autism and Alexander Center for Autism so that I could empower families to exceed their child’s or loved one’s intellectual disability diagnosis. Exceeding Autism is a nonprofit organization that provides resources and support for families that need direction after receiving an intellectual or developmental disability diagnosis. Alexander Center for Autism is an educational center that provides specialized content based upon each child’s educational and social needs.
What should our readers know about your business?
Alexander Center for Autism provides services and support that accommodate parents and their underserved, underrepresented population of children diagnosed with autism and/or other developmental disabilities. Children are being miseducated because they are being labeled as “the bad or troubled” child when the truth is, they have an undiagnosed or unmet special need. We provide insight and resources to get the child and the parent on the correct educational and social pathway. As a licensed nurse and former non-profit sector employee, I have over 16 years of experience working with underserved populations. Being able to connect with individuals on their level is imperative. As we are still in the midst of a global pandemic, the demand for assistance and resources is greater than it has ever been. I’ve had to overcome the challenge of not having the resources I needed to survive and that is why I’ve dedicated the remainder of my life to providing a path for those who don’t exactly know what to do with their child who is experiencing education and social hardships.. At Exceeding Autism and Alexander Center for Autism, we pride ourselves on having personal and professional experience with autism and special needs. Having a child on the spectrum has enabled me to designed a program for other mothers and fathers like myself that received a diagnosis and didn’t know what to do. My organization offers the professional expertise, as well as the personalization because I share in the same struggle with raising a child with special needs.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
Houston is such a culturally diverse city that has an abundance of amazing eateries and beautiful places to hangout. My best friend and I absolutely love Mexican food, so our first stop would be Cadillac Bar which hosts a delightful menu accompanied by a daily happy hour from 11am-7pm. If you hung out late and wanted to sleep in, you can definitely recover with brunch at Bisou in River Oaks District or Monarch in the Museum District. I’m definitely a Southern girl, so I love some good cajun-inspired soul food which you can find a Grace’s on Kirby or Eunice Restaurant on Buffalo Speedway. If your looking for something fun to do, highly recommend a bike tour with 3rd Ward Tours or Eado Big Boy Toy Rentals. Hermann Park and Discovery Green are beautiful places to take a walk or enjoy a picnic on the green. Cap off an exciting day with an exquisite dinner and dessert at Spindletop overlooking the cityscape of beautiful downtown Houston. Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I would like to thank everyone that has supported my endeavors and journey to exceed. At one point in my life, I thought that I was destined to be an author, but throughout the journey of my son’s autism diagnosis, I’ve come to the realization that advocating for autism awareness and educational equality was what I was created to do. A huge part of my drive and determination comes from my parents and grandparents, as well as my spiritual leadership. My family provided the foundation for being a hard worker, while my Pastor and church (The Lighthouse Church of Houston) provided the knowledge to balance some of the painful life experiences by using them as leverage to propel me into my purpose. I want to dedicate my shoutout to my daughter, Kori and my son, Neiman. Seeing my children grow up in a world that is continuously evolving empowers me to create change and advocate for their future the same way those before me advocated for mine.
Instagram: @netraford @exceedingautism
J.P. Hanney Visuals Exeeding Autism