Shelley Hendrix Reynolds graduated with a Bachelors of Arts degree from Mount Holyoke College in South Hadley, MA in 1991 with a double major of political science and art history. She currently resides in Baton Rouge, LA with her two children, Liam and Mairin. Liam was diagnosed with autism age the age of two in 1998.
Shortly following Liam's diagnosis, she co-founded Unlocking Autism in 1999 for the purpose of raising awareness about Autism Spectrum Disorders and the belief that autism is treatable and preventable. She serves as president of the organization. Over the years, she has been featured in numerous articles in publications throughout the country including USA Today, the Atlanta Journal, the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Washington Post, Spectrum Magazine, The Advocate, the Boston Globe, the Chicago Tribune and the New York Times and New York Daily News. On October 3 1999, she and her family appeared in a segment entitled "A Question of Harm" CNN/Time Magazine's NewsStand as well as CNN's Talk Back Live regarding the MMR vaccine and her belief that it was connected to the development of autism in her son. The CNN piece aired in 37 countries worldwide and was the first nationally televised piece to feature a connection between vaccines and autism. In 2001, Shelley appeared as a panelist on the The Montel Williams Show in a segment focused on vaccines and autism as well in March.
On April 6, 2000, she testified before the United States Congress Government Reform Committee along with a panel of parents with regard to the impact that autism had on her family, as well as her belief that vaccines led to the development of autism in her son. Author David Kirby features portions of her testimony in his book, Evidence of Harm.
In 2005, Spectrum Publications named her Person of the Year for her work within the autism community and in 2006 Spectrum named her as one of the Top 10 Faces of Autism.
In addition to her work with Unlocking Autism, Shelley has served on an advisory panel with the United States Department of Defense Autism Spectrum Disorder Research Program for Congressionally Directed Medical Research Programs since the program's inception in 2007. This program seeks to fund and develop innovative research strategies in the area of autism research with a goal of helping people with autism impacted with the disorder today.
Since September 2007, she has worked for Autism Speaks through their Autism Votes initiative, serving as their Director of State Advocacy Relations coordinating their state based legislative initiatives. She also now serves on the Advisory Board for Spectrum Publications.
In addition to her service with the autism community, Shelley is an active member of her church. She is a founding member of the Aquinas League, a non-profit organization that hosts several tennis tournaments throughout the year for the purpose of fundraising for several charities (www.aquinasleague.org).
The views expressed in her column are her own and not necessarily reflective of the groups, organizations, boards or companies with which she is affiliated.