Inspiration from MLK Jr.


Martin Luther King Jr. was a minister, activist, and leader in the civil rights movement.  He saw injustice, and he couldn’t sit idly by and let it continue.  He spoke up for what he believed in and brought about change because of it.

I read something this past weekend that said, “Instead of posting tons of MLK Jr. quotes tomorrow, why don’t we go out and live his words.”

So here I am – posting MLK Jr. quotes – but also, trying to live that life too. It’s easy to reflect on a day like Martin Luther King Jr. Day and respect the man for whom the holiday is honoring…but what do we do the day after the holiday? Do we take those quotes that we read on social media and try to apply them to our lives somehow?   These are some pretty amazing MLK Jr. quotes that I think we here at MAP aspire to live by:


“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”


“The time is always right to do what is right.”


“Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?”


“The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.”


“Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase.”


Here in West Virginia (and nationally as well), we see a population that continues to grow – 1 in 59 children have an autism diagnosis.  As this population grows, the need for trained professionals grows as well.   It is estimated that less than 10% of the autism population in WV has access to life-changing, doctor-prescribed treatment.  These children need – and deserve – evidence-based treatment.


What is MAP Doing to Address the Needs of the Autism Community?



We see the need, as we are sure you do too.  As  MLK Jr. said, “The time is always right do what is right.”  So right now, we are taking steps to make ABA therapy more readily available for all children in our state.  This is an enormous undertaking – and won’t happen overnight – but we must do it.  Change must happen if we want to serve our children with autism well, West Virginia.  We see a need and cannot remain silent.


Ten years ago, MAP started a huge battle – insurance reform.  Back then, no autism therapies were covered by insurance companies – ABA, speech, OT, PT – nothing!  MAP was instrumental in getting legislation passed – so if your child has an autism diagnosis, and their therapy is covered by insurance, you have MAP to thank for that.


Next up:  Medicaid.  MAP continued the battle, and Medicaid is on board for ABA therapy.  We continue to work on policy implementation so that providers can start to treat clients and bill for those services.


Currently:  As stated above, we need more professionals.  We need more Board Certified Behavior Analysts to meet the needs of the ever-growing autism population.  MAP is working to provide scholarship funds for students who wish to pursue degrees in behavior analysis.  Our goal would be this: to help you get the degree necessary to help these kids, then keep you here in West Virginia to live, work, and serve within our local communities.


Like I have alluded to in the last few weeks:  MAP has big goals for 2019.


Just imagine if MLK Jr. hadn’t spoken up for what he believed in, where would our nation be today?  He was just one person, but look at the waves his small ripple created.  We know that we are just one nonprofit organization, but we have big dreams too.



….So how can you help?


We need more ABA providers.  If you have ever considered a career in behavior analysis, now is the time to do it.  Becoming a Board Certified Behavior Analyst or a Registered Behavior Technician (RBT) could be the career you’ve always dreamed of – one where your work could be life-changing for so many families here in West Virginia.


People with autism matter to us here at MAP.  We need to fight for them – and do the hard work – even when it isn’t easy or comfortable.  They deserve the best, and we are dedicated to bringing about change to make that happen.


1 in 59 might sound like a small number to you – but when your child is that “one, ” it matters – and it’s worth the work, fight, blood, sweat, and tears.


As you reflect on the words of MLK Jr. today, I hope that they inspire you to speak up for the autism community in your area.  The time is now!




If you are interested in becoming a Friend of MAP and helping us in our crusade to bring life-changing ABA therapy to more children in the state of West Virginia, please reach out!  We would love to hear from you.  

Deidra Darst is a speech language pathologist, autism mom, and State Director of the Mountaineer Autism Project.

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