After obtaining her degree in Psychology and Human Services from Wingate University (where she met her amazing husband, Lee), Jill Urwick became the parent of three beautiful children, a son with autism, a son with ADHD, and a healthy daughter.
After receiving the diagnoses for her sons, Jill consulted and followed the advice given to her by a variety of “specialists”. Fortunately, it did not take Jill long to realize that the traditional medical approaches for treating these disorders (often involving harsh pharmaceuticals) were not only incredibly ineffective, they were causing more harm than good. Jill eventually came to realize that the so-called experts had very little understanding or even interest in the underlying causes of these disorders, and therefore lacked effective treatment strategies.
Jill’s drive to find real solutions for her boys prompted her to do extensive research and eventually led her to the work of Dr. Stephanie Cave, MD and others who were treating autism and other chronic conditions affecting our children with a “biomedical” approach. This strategy focused on nutrition, detoxification, targeted supplements and more. The positive results in behavior, attention and physical health that she witnessed in her boys after applying the principles finally opened an avenue of real and lasting hope for Jill and her family.
As Jill progressed on her journey to do everything she could for her own sons, she felt compelled to help other families who often lacked the information and/or resources to implement and benefit from the types of interventions she had discovered. To fill this void, Jill spent much of her time counseling other parents on ways to help their kids and created paths for their success where none had previously existed.
In 2002, she co-founded and served as President of S.T.A.R. Parents, a proactive support group for parents who are Seeking Treatment and Recovery for their children with autism. The group, located in Charlotte, NC had more than 100 members. Jill continues to serve this community primarily online.
When it became obvious to Jill that her son with autism who was attending public school had very little encouragement or opportunity for peer interaction, she partnered with 2 other local moms to establish Verbal Behavior Inclusion program in the local public school system. Through trial and error and much collaboration between administrators, staff, and parents, in 2002 a successful program emerged.
As someone who was always in pursuit of good, solid information and strategies that could offer additional help for her sons, Jill attended several Defeat Autism Now! Conferences. In 2003, after collaborating with the coordinator of these conferences on a small local event in Charlotte, Jill was asked to serve as the Projects Director for the Defeat Autism Now! organization. Working side by side with the coordinator of these events (Maureen McDonnell, RN), Jill was intricately involved in planning the logistics, visiting and securing venues, inviting world renowned speakers, preparing the syllabus and marketing these events to parents, researchers, teachers etc. interested in learning what could be done to prevent and help their children improve and/or recover from autism.
As time passed, it became crystal clear that recovery from the disorders that plagued her children was possible, and Jill was seeing tremendous improvement in both boys. However, most insurance companies would not cover the cost of the vast majority of treatments and therapies that proved beneficial and effective, making them unrealistic for many families. To rectify this injustice, in 2008 Jill founded a 501(c)3 non-profit organization, Vital Interventions Accessiblewhose mission was to provide education and financial assistance to families of children with autism spectrum disorders and other chronic conditions. Jill served as Executive Director for that organization for 7 years.
In 2008, because of their mutual and strong desire to help prevent autism and other chronic illnesses affecting children, Jill and Maureen McDonnell (who had become great friends by this point) co-founded Saving Our Kids, Healing Our Planet. To launch this venture, they coordinated a conference for which they received the coveted Charlotte Business Journal Non-Profit Action Program of the Year Green Award. Their first 3-day green children’s health event took place at the Charlotte Convention Center with close to 1000 attendees. In 2009, Jill and Maureen went on to organize another event in collaboration with the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey. Then mayor, (now Senator) Corey Booker accepted the invitation to deliver their keynote address and with tremendous support from the city of Newark, Jill and Maureen worked to bring practical information on how to raise healthy kids in a toxic world to the poor and under-served families of that city. With over 30 speakers, entertainment, healthy food and exhibits focused on green living, the Newark SOKHOP program was a huge success.
In 2009, Jill was hired to serve as an Educational Advocate for kids with special needs, as well as a Service Advocate and Community Liason for adults with special needs through Easter Seals UCP. Although she loved serving in this capacity, her family’s needs at home began to require more of her attention. Because her autistic son’s needs were not being fully met in the public school, in 2011 she left her position with Easter Seals UCP to homeschool him for the following 4 years. With very high expectations and a rigorous curriculum, he graduated high school on time, with straight A’s.
She currently resides near Charlotte, NC with her husband Lee, son Jackson, daughter Emily, Dash the Basset, and Bo the Puppy.
As an active parent advocate and having had tremendous success in addressing many of her own sons’ symptoms of autism and ADHD, Jill continues to inspire and share her passion of hope for families facing the challenges that come with autism and other special needs.