When your younger brother, who is autistic, needs 40 hours of therapy spread across various locations and requires full-time transportation, you make the decision to put your career on hold and become his caregiver. But you don’t stop there. You open your heart and home to others because you understand the challenges they face. And that’s when you realize your true purpose.


July 13, 2023 – Episode # 96

Propelling Neurodiverse Excellence featuring Emily Carpenter, Kayla Farahmand, and Tom Kopp

In recent years, the perception and portrayal of autism have undergone a remarkable transformation. The community has embraced the shift from the puzzle piece symbol to the rainbow infinity symbol, symbolizing a new mission. The language has evolved too, with discussions around using “autistic person” versus “person with autism” and the recognition of the importance of neurodiversity. We have moved beyond mere awareness and embraced acceptance, taking decisive action and fostering appreciation. Society has courageously confronted the need for change and inclusion. While the journey started in Holland, it’s time to explore and experience more…autism without limits.

But amidst all the changes, one thing that remains constant is the dedication to providing care and support for autistic individuals to help them live their lives to the fullest, unrestricted by their condition. The journey involves a comprehensive treatment plan that includes ABA Therapy, Occupational Therapy, Speech Therapy, and numerous medical consultations. It often feels like a never-ending cycle of appointments, tests, and traveling in different directions to access the necessary services. The challenges of arranging individualized education plans, out-of-district school placements, transforming homes into classrooms, and managing an overwhelming calendar of appointments can take a toll on both the individual and their families. Yet, through it all, the unwavering commitment to fostering belonging and enabling these individuals to reach their potential remains the driving force.

Nestled in a welcoming city with a small-town ambiance and the added benefits of a thriving metropolitan area, West Fargo, North Dakota, shines as a “city on the grow.” This vibrant community stands out for its exceptional support and inclusion of autistic individuals, largely due to the establishment of the North Dakota Autism Center in 2007.

In this inspiring episode, we welcome Emily Carpenter (Event Coordinator), Kayla Farahmand (Mission Development Administrator), and Tom Kopp (Director of Mission Development) from the North Dakota Autism Center, who share the incredible journey of this blossoming nonprofit and its deep-rooted purpose, sparked by the story of Tyler. The team at the North Dakota Autism Center attributes their success to their commitment to core values, including a strong focus on excellence. As we delve into their impactful programming and hear about their unwavering passion, it becomes evident that their collective vision is to create a community where every individual is included, valued, and embraced with a true sense of belonging. It’s a testament to the power of teamwork at its finest.

Emily also emphasizes the crucial role of fundraising in keeping the North Dakota Autism Center thriving. She attributes their recent fundraising success to the innovative software solutions provided by DonorDock and OneCause. By leveraging both platforms, Emily’s team achieved incredible results and experienced the power of an integrated solution. It was a game-changer and a true lifesaver for their organization.

When you believe in creating a genuine neurodiverse community, it’s about living your “why” and embracing the profound meaning of unity and understanding.

Highlights include:

  • Living with AuSome Abilities.
  • Demonstrating integrity, compassion, and excellence in every action.
  • Establishing strong relationships with local communities.
  • Delivering programming and making an impact with care, love, and understanding.
  • Providing guidance for those recently diagnosed, helping them navigate their journey.

Connect with the North Dakota Autism Team on Linked InEmily CarpenterKayla FarahmandTom Kopp

Or visit the North Dakota Autism Center website: NDAC
Get Involved

Related Reading and Resources:
Welcome to Holland by Emily Perl Kingsley
OneCause Fundraising Platform – Take a Tour