Colette Canchola was a stay-at-home mother until her son’s autism diagnosis propelled her into advocacy work.

In 2013, she became the activities director for the Autism Alliance of Northwest Missouri. Currently, she works as the director of community relations.

“The life you envisioned for your child and your family is drastically changed and you are kind of put in this new world where you have to figure out everything — it can kind of feel lonely,” Canchola said.

Now, she works to help others avoid that sense of isolation.

Canchola guides families through the processes and procedures after an autism diagnosis. She also provides them with tools at the beginning of their journey so they can better advocate for their children and their needs.

She serves on the Autism Alliance board of directors and on the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education Special Education Advisory Panel for Missouri. In addition, she is a mentor with Missouri Family to Family and works as a family navigator for Progressive Community Services.

— Eppie Pallangyo

Eppie Pallangyo can be reached at eppie.pallangyo@newspressnow.com.

Follow her on Twitter: @SJNPPallangyo.

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