Long before SPD Support became what it was today, it was merely an idea, a vision. Michelle Morris had a mission to support as many as she could in the Sensory Processing Disorder world. She joined SPD Parent Connections, the official host network for the SPD Foundation in the early '00s. She wrote about her past and mission when she initially launched the SPD Parent SHARE website:
In my small American town, only several years ago, when someone mentioned Sensory Processing Disorder, no one here knew what it was. I know this, because I was that someone who asked my friends and neighbors. My family, pediatricians, and staff at our Health Department. I asked everyone I knew and many people I didn't know. Nope, not a clue. But I had to find someone, anyone who knew about SPD, because I needed to know.
My son had just been diagnosed, and I didn't understand at all. I had a mountain of questions and no answers. I knew I would have to find answers to help my child, and so I began. Searching for books on the subject I found Carol Kranowitz's "The Out of Sync Child". I looked for research about SPD and found Dr. Lucy Miller, the leading researcher in the world devoted full time to studying SPD. I learned as much as I could, and wanted to know more.
I found a few online support groups and joined them, to ask, listen and learn. As I began to understand the answers, one question at a time, I realized that too many knew too little about SPD in my town, and set about to remedy that.
I made up flyers announcing my intention to share my answers with other families, and very slowly, one by one these families found their way to meetings with me. In time these meetings were full of families, and I felt the need to look further than my own neighborhood, to make sure families everywhere learned about this invisible disorder. I created my own online support group, and parents started coming in, from all over America, Canada, England and elsewhere asking the same questions I once had.
And everywhere a resounding need to know, what is Sensory Processing Disorder? How can a parent help their child? I became a Host for Laurie Renke's "SPD Parent Connections", under the sponsorship of Dr. Lucy Miller, and with their wise guidance and support was able to broaden my reach to families that included my entire state. Was this enough? You'd think so, wouldn't you? But no, I was contacted by families far and wide who needed more. More than I alone could give them.
My desire to provide more help, support and information continued to grow. As my own child improved this need to share the wonderful hope and possibilities grew with him. In my resolve to reach more families, I knew I had to create another group, that could reach more than a town, more than a state, maybe even more than a country. I needed parents who would help me share. Parents sharing their hope and answers with other parents.
And with the help of a few wonderful, caring parents by my side, I created SPD Parent S.H.A.R.E.. Parents helping parents everywhere we can, any way we can.
Is this now enough? You'd think so, wouldn't you? But no. It won't be enough for me, until every family, in every town, every state and every country knows what Sensory Processing Disorder is, and what they can do to help their own child. Because your child, could have been MY child, and all of us are one big SPD family.
— Michelle Morris; SPD Parent SHARE International Founder and CEO
In 2001, shortly after learning about her son's condition, Michelle became active on a number of online Yahoo support groups. In April of 2003, Michelle launched the first of what is now a network of Yahoo groups, SID-DSI AllAboutKids. The group is still functioning today, and has increased in size and activity gradually over time. What was originally a small group of a few close-knit friends eventually became what it is today – a powerhouse SPD support group with well over 3,000 members and soon approaching 100,000 posts.
This, however, was only the beginning of Michelle's efforts.
Formation of S.H.A.R.E. and Launching the Site
While SPD Parent Connections was (and still is) a fantastic organization, there was a desire to modernize and 'loosen up' on some of their requirements that they set for hosts. For one, it wasn't desirable for hosts to be active in the online SPD community at that time. The Foundation also had rigid, though fair, mandates for hosts to follow, such as requiring them to hold in-person meetings on a regular basis. While this is a terrific way to serve the SPD community, many felt they wouldn't be able to host in-person meetings or meet some of the requirements of the Foundation.
So, in 2005, Michelle Morris (from Florida), Carrie Fannin (Washington), Carolyn King (Florida), Denise McKeon (Pennsylvania), and a few others got together to create a newer host group with a more laid back and modern approach, to serve as an alternative to SPD Parent Connections. They debated on what they would name the new group for some time, tossing ideas back and forth. Eventually, the idea came to go with an acronym for all that the group would be for: Support, Help, Advocacy, Resources, and Education (S.H.A.R.E.). The name was unanimously loved and approved by the founding members.
Shortly after it was founded, Carrie Fannin left SHARE to take on a more rigerous role with SPD Parent Connections. The board leading Parent Connections decided it was unwise for hosts to serve on both Parent Connections and SHARE, due to the time and stress it may place on the hosts. This created a bit of a divide between the two organizations that lasted for some time, though some hosts continued to serve for both.
In 2005, the group launched its own private, hosts-only Yahoo group and picked itself up off the ground to get the ball rolling. Soon afterwards, Michelle launched the first of what would become a network of websites, SPDParentSHARE.com. The site was dedicated to the host community, and contained their resources, articles, support group listing, and host network directory.
Michelle Takes Over
In 2006, after a little over a year of serving as a co-administrator for Michelle, Carolyn King stepped down from her position for personal reasons. She stopped moderating on SID-DSI AllAboutKids and officially stopped hosting. The loss was hard, and Michelle was put into a position where she had to take over even more of the organization's functions herself.
Founding of the SPD International Organization
Dan Steps In for Michelle
In January 2008, Michelle suffered the first of her major setbacks. She had a heart attack. Though she survived the attack, it left her bed-ridden for some time, and made fulfilling her online commitments very difficult and strenuous. At that same time, I (Dan Travis from Michigan) was just learning about Sensory Processing Disorder, and becoming active on her SPD Adult SHARE and SID-DSI AllAboutKids groups.
Michelle wasn't able to post or keep up very well, but found that I was capable of responding to people and writing well detailed, thoughtful and insiteful advice to members on the groups, allowing her to not have to feel so pressured to respond. I finally came into contact with Michelle in September 2008. I had no idea she had been watching, but she had been all along. She not only helped me get my first article published in SI Focus Magazine, but she also offered me the position of International Host Manager on SPD Parent SHARE.
I hadn't joined SHARE originally because I was not a 'parent,' and felt that my joining would be problematic for other members. I accepted the position and was brought onto the SPD Parent SHARE Yahoo group to help moderate. At the same time, I also became a moderator for SID-DSI AllAboutKids and SPD Adult SHARE. Bev Isaacson also came onboard as a host and helped run AllAboutKids. Erin Johnson was made a host as well, and helped run AllAboutKids and Adult SHARE.
In January of 2009, almost exactly one year after the first attack, Michelle suffered a second heart attack. Again, Michelle survived the attack, but the second one left her in very bad shape. She was no longer able to handle any of the rigours of running the Host community, groups, or websites. In March of 2009, she handed them over to me to serve as the administrator. I agreed to handle the task for her so that she could recover and be there for her son.
SPD Life, SHARE Redesign and SPD International Forums Launch
Shortly before Michelle's second heart attack, I had made the decision that I would be pursuing an Associate's degree as an Internet Professional/web developer. I took my introductory coding class in the fall of 2008, and, for my final project in the class, built SPD Life, the first website dedicated to adults with SPD. Upon completion of the course, I went out and actually purchased the SPDLife.org domain, launching it in late December 2008 as the first website dedicated to adults with SPD.
In the fall of 2009, I decided to redesign Michelle's SPD Parent SHARE website, which suffered from slow load times, a 'home made' layout, and organizational issues. On Christmas Eve, 2009, SPDParentSHARE.com was relaunched with a fresh new design and layout. While I was happy to have the site easier to navigate, looking cleaner and loading faster, it was still short of what I wanted. I still wanted a place for people to come and interact with one and other. I wanted a bulletin board site.
In the spring of 2010, a new friend of mine, Martin, linked me to MyBB, a site that could offer me exactly what I wanted: a free and open sourced bulletin board program. Now I had the tools I needed to create my dream site. I just had to decide where to put it. I could place it on SPD Life or SPD Parent SHARE, but I figured that placing it on either of those sites would create the idea that it was either only for adults or for parents, depending upon which one I placed it in. Finally, I decided to go with the neutral territory site that Michelle had always owned, the one that only had a small page on it currently – SPDInternational.org.
On June 1st, 2010, I launched SPDInternational.org and its new support forum and chat room.
This page is a work in progress, so I am not quite finished yet. For more information on what has happened since the launch of the support forum at SPDInternational.org and our recent move, please read our About the New Site page. Thank you, and check in again here soon for more written history.