Amanda Willard

The National Association of Child Development has been a member of our family since 1999. This became necessary when it was discovered that Adam, my brother, had suffered some serious neurological damage years earlier after infant vaccinations. Impressed that Adam made such strides within the first year of working through NACD, our parents decided to make it a family affair. The next ten years of NACD would drastically change the course of our future. Growing up with a brother who was neurologically delayed was challenging as the younger of the two. Spending every school day learning together was not our idea of fun. Growing up with the “homeschooled” label the world provided was an additional challenge, but I am grateful for all the opportunities an NACD life has given to my family and me.

Trips to Florida from Ohio for evaluations were far better than an entire summer off, which was the norm for most kids. The Daunhauer family saw all 50 states in 10 years, learning more than any history class could teach us. Our travels later inspired my thesis and creation of my own children’s book. The hobbies that our evaluators encouraged eventually turned into careers. Adam now owns and operates a dog kennel and specializes in digital preservation, and I designed the mascot for the business. I graduated from high school in 2011, a year early, and spent 4 years at Huntington University, majoring in Animation, with the idea that I was going to work for Disney. But along the way, I discovered a passion for children’s books and completed my Master of Children’s Literature at Eastern Michigan University in 2017. The result of my childhood experience with NACD gave me the desire more than anything to make a difference in the lives of children. Along the way I would enhance this learning with my favorite children’s books. I have been an educator in various capacities since college. However, teaching preschool at two different centers was all but encouraging. Because of NACD, I knew firsthand that things could be better for children and their families. Having had multiple students in my classroom with cognitive challenges and no way of helping, I knew my talents had to be used elsewhere to make a difference. I am thrilled to be a part of NACD and being part of helping others reach their full potential.

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