Kimberly Katari, best known as “Kimmy” to those who know her, is the quintessential working woman turned parental advocate. She was a practicing commercial litigation attorney, licensed in the states of Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Florida. She met and married her husband 21 years ago and gave birth to 4 boys. While pregnant with her middle twin boys, Kimmy’s mom was diagnosed with breast cancer. Kimmy made the difficult but determined decision to leave the practice of law to focus her attention on her ailing mother and baby boys. Kimmy’s mother survived the breast cancer, but was diagnosed with ovarian cancer approximately two years later, when Kimmy was pregnant with her youngest son.
Having the twins provided a much different perspective as far as keeping track of her babies’ progression. Blake’s brother soon surpassed him on the pediatrician’s checklists of milestones. Kimmy and her husband brought Blake for early evaluation and were told that Blake simply had low muscle tone and was speech delayed. About a year later, however, Blake’s therapist suggested that they bring him to see a neurologist because it seemed as if Blake’s was “spacing out” often. That was the beginning of a whole new life for the Katari family…Blake was diagnosed on the autism spectrum with PDD-NOS.
Kimmy has been passionate about finding and doing all that she can for her son, Blake, since that diagnosis. Not one to give up, give in, or accept defeat, she became the voice, advocate, cheerleader, pincushion, and counselor for Blake. She watched, she listened, she learned, she read, she argued – all for her son. She cried often, yet maintained a strong, stable image and persona for the betterment of the rest of her family and those that she loved so deeply.
Kimmy quickly discovered that there is an entirely separate world out there for children with special needs and their families. In that world, values are different, priorities are different, relationships are different, and people are different. In that world, being different is good. It is special. Small things could be astronomical in that special world.
Over the next decade, Kimmy delved into the life of being a mom of a son with autism as well as a wife, daughter, and mom of three “typical” boys. She incorporated into their lives the gluten free casein free diet, doctors’ visits, RDI therapy, ABA therapy, OT therapy, equine therapy, speech therapy, social skills classes, Tomatis listening therapy, floortime therapy, and acupuncture because there was no telling what would be best for Blake.
She spent countless hours with therapists, teachers, paraprofessionals, school administrators, and doctors and even more on the phone with insurance companies in order to try to obtain the best services possible to help her son. It seemed as if time was passing by and yet Blake was at a standstill with the choices of local therapists and therapy clinics. Kimmy and her husband agreed to take a gamble and seek services outside of the state of Florida. She traveled alone with Blake and homeschooled him for months, leaving her supportive family behind, a very difficult and emotional time for the entire family.
Kimmy returned to Florida with the revelation that there needed to be better options for families like hers in Florida. Parents needed and deserved to focus their time and efforts on their special children and not drive around town from one appointment to another. It was rarely possible to describe and update each therapist on what another one had accomplished or noticed with Blake. Those therapists should be able to converse and share notes with one another. Kimmy strongly felt that children with special needs deserved to be in a caring, well-equipped environment conducive to optimizing the child’s capabilities and not in a small cluttered room. Most importantly, she wanted qualified, talented therapists who were not robotic or routine. She did not believe in leaving Blake with a “glorified babysitter”. She complained repeatedly to her husband, a self-made entrepreneur, and he encouraged her to “do something about it”. With his extensive business knowledge, acumen and guidance, My Favorite Therapists began to emerge.