Kathryn Jenkins is Making the World a More Inclusive Place
The mom of three and author of Inclusion Alphabet has an 8-year-old son with autism.
By PJ Feinstein
The woman who came to evaluate her son Logan for early childhood intervention services had a kind smile, recalls Kathryn Jenkins. Logan, who was two years old, “could not hold still, read a book, or say a word.”
She left the young Utah mother with a thick packet of information that included resources about autism. “I remember sobbing all over my desk because in that moment, I knew,” says Kathryn. “A few months later, we received the diagnosis, and it was honestly a relief. I needed to know how to help him.”
Kathryn has spent the past six years not only learning how to help Logan, now 8, but also other children with autism. She runs a business called Inclusion Project that helps to create more conversations about inclusion at home, in school, and in the community, and she’s just published a book called “Inclusion Alphabet.”
“Most of the time,” says Kathryn, ”I am happy stay-at-home mom trying to understand the new math homework my kids come home with and providing sensory play throughout the house.” Logan has two younger siblings, Cruz (6) and Everett (3), who “have changed his world for the better.”
“They are extremely patient with him. They also fight just like typical brothers do,” she says. Kathryn and her husband, Jared, love watching them all play together. “It’s magical.”
What 5 words best describe you? Creative, inclusive, distracted, insightful, strong
What's the most difficult thing about raising a child with special needs?
The constant worry. I just want Logan to be happy and proud of who he is. I want him to see himself the way I see him, and I am constantly panicked that this world will crush him if he is not prepared and confident in himself. It is on my mind all the time.
What's one cool thing you wish people knew about Logan?
He‘s funny. He loves a good joke. He is also extremely bright. He loves numbers and math. In some moments, you get the silly side of him, and in other moments, he is extremely serious and solving long division problems in his head. He is a constant conundrum that I love to try and solve.
What are some of your favorite apps? What are Logan’s?
I love creative apps like Adobe Spark Post, Pic Collage, Pixelmator, Over, and Pinterest. I also love to connect with people in apps like Instagram and Wolf + Friends :)
Where is your family's happy place?
At home. We love being at home together, watching movies and just being our silly selves.
What self-care rituals help keep you sane?
I have recently become a big fan of taking a bath and reading a book. I’m a writer, so I let out a lot of my feelings by writing them down. I believe in taking breaks, drinking water, eating dove chocolate, and chanting personal affirmations as much as I need. I owe a lot of my constant self-care to my husband, who takes over whenever I need him to.
Who are your 3 favorite moms to follow on Instagram?
There are so many great ones. @the_autism_mom and @findingcoopersvoice have been two favorites from the beginning. I also like celebrity friending @jennifergarner because I’m sure we would be friends in another world 😂 and she supports a lot of child literacy efforts.
What TV show/book/podcast are you currently obsessed with?
Everything Marie Kondo. She fascinates me. I binge watched her Netflix series, “Tidying Up,” but I have also read her book a few times. I am not a devout follower but I love the idea of living with less and being a complete minimalist. Now if only I could get my son to get rid of the empty candy wrappers he hoards and obsesses over in his room.
What advice would you give a new special needs mom?
Get into your child's’ world and love them for who they are. They will come into your world slowly over time as they are ready. It’s going to be okay. Focus on making your child feel capable of learning and don’t worry about whether they are keeping up. Believe in them. Don’t put your child on a pedestal. They want to be treated like a regular kid but know and tell them often how special they are. It’s okay to grieve sometimes. It’s not okay to give up.