TYLER, Texas (KETK) – KETK News is highlighting the ladies making big moves from Piney Woods. This week, we introduce you to a woman committed to helping others.

Meet Patricia Glass of Tyler, the founder and executive director of Neurodivergent Advocates of East Texas.

“There wasn’t any community for the neurodivergent individuals or families here,” Glass said.

Glass is on a mission to fill the gap, but what does it mean to be neurodivergent?

“It covers so many different things,” said Glass. “I like to say if you’re a misfit or you’re wired just a little bit differently, you fit into our community.”

When her son Liam was 18 months old, he was diagnosed with autism, which inspired her to start the nonprofit.

“But because he’s so bright and because he can speak so well, we kind of fell through the cracks,” Glass said. “It was me advocating and was like, ‘who do I go to get a diagnosis? I don’t know what this is, but I think it’s this.'”

Glass said it is difficult to find other parents who can relate, not only because there is a lack of resources but also because many families do not want to go out in public.

“We want to go on playdates, and we want to go out in public, but we’re so afraid of meltdowns and behaviors that aren’t typical of other children,” Glass said. “So we provide a place where you can do that with no shame and how you parent and what support your child needs.”

Neurodivergent Advocates of East Texas hosts a variety of programs, including playdates, parent resource nights and sensory haircuts.

“Families can go in and just enjoy a friendly area where their kids can get a haircut,” Glass said. “If it takes 10 minutes, if it takes 45 minutes, your child will stay there and can get a haircut with no problems.”

Glass saw a need and stepped up to help others in a similar circumstance.

“We’re going to learn how to advocate for our kids,” Glass said. “So other members in our community know that it’s okay and how to support them and support us. It’s all about just education and awareness and in advocating for them.”

Glass creates a safe place for parents and their children while embracing the differences that make each and every person special.