At Home With Fishers’ City Councilwoman Cecilia Coble
Writer / Kara Reibel . Photographer / Brian Brosmer
Fishers’ City Councilwoman Cecilia Coble proudly represents families with children and those living with disabilities.
Cecilia and Mike Coble have called the Geist area home for the last 21 years. Mike is originally from Indianapolis, while Cecilia grew up mainly in Phoenix, Arizona.
With her mom from Mexico and her dad, a retired FBI agent, Cecilia, her brother and sister were encouraged to discuss politics and solutions. The family made a point of staying connected to current events and social issues.
Cecilia met her husband at the University of Arizona. After graduation, the couple married and moved to Indianapolis, both earning their law degrees from Indiana University’s Robert McKinney School of Law.
After working in government relations for Bank One, Cecilia took time off to be a mom to their girls: Alexa, a competitive cheerleader and an eighth grader at HSE Jr. High, and Crysta, a fifth grader and also part of a cheer squad at Indiana Elite. When Crysta was 6 months old, Mike and Cecilia started noticing a delay in meeting certain developmental milestones.
“We sought early intervention, going through First Steps as well as seeing specialists,” says Cecilia. “We were doing all the right things and it wasn’t helping.”
The next few years, the Cobles sought answers for their daughter, Crysta. They worked with genetic counseling, a few developmental pediatricians, and even took Crysta to Mayo Clinic to no avail of a definitive diagnosis. It was not until Crysta was about 5-years-old that a local pediatrician in Indianapolis diagnosed her with autism.
Devastated by the news, but also relieved because now they knew what they were dealing with, the Cobles quickly sought solutions to help their youngest daughter.
“I am a warrior mom and a solution-driven person. I wanted to have no regrets,” states Cecilia, who continues to investigate all possible avenues to help Crysta. “One in 68 children have autism. It has exploded to epidemic proportions, yet parents must seek their own answers and solutions.”
Upon exploring schools and learning centers for kids with autism, the Coble family discovered that they were fortunate to have several options for centers for children with autism nearby.
Normal activities, such as a playground, were not initially handled with the normalcy one would expect from an active child. When Mike and Cecilia would take the girls to a park to play, Crysta would run in the opposite direction of the playground. This is not uncommon with autistic children. Finding areas that would allow Crysta to explore, without worrying about her running out into a parking lot or other potentially unsafe area, was a challenge.
“Parenting a child with autism is a completely different ballgame than that of a normal child. Quickly, we found our hopes and dreams for Crysta changing, our goals for her changed, and we dealt with these changes,” said Cecilia.
Within Hamilton County, Fishers has the highest concentration of families living with autism.
During one of Cecilia’s late-night online information-seeking sessions, she discovered a group called TACA, Talk About Curing Autism. Founded in Orange County, California, it was formed by a group of parents, all coping with the complexities of autism.
“The TACA organization helped us so much, providing us with so much information, I knew I had to share this locally,” states Cecilia. She reached out to TACA and became one of four coordinators for the Indiana chapter.
TACA provides much-needed information and resources to families dealing with the challenges of autism. TACA chapters continue to grow all across the country.
Made up of autism families helping autism families, their goal is to quickly aide families on to the right path for help. The services offered are desperately needed, for once a family receives a diagnosis, they are left to cope with autism mostly on their own.
Having a child with autism can be physically and emotionally exhausting. The sleepless nights, fussy eating, and medical issues push parents to their limits. Fishers resident and TACA mom living with autism, Raina Schnaiter, said, “Autism has pushed me beyond my limits. It is through autism that I have learned I am limitless.
TACA helps address important issues like sleep. Children with autism have diverging sleep patterns, and for many parents, it can be like having a newborn, only the phase can last indefinitely. Diet is another facet of autism. Studies have shown that autistic children perform better on gluten-free, casein-free diets. Many have other allergies or additional concerns, so diet changes are a high priority. The sleep suggestions and dietary suggestions help immensely, such as they did with Crysta.
Crysta keeps plugging away, working on her milestones. She talks, which is a huge step in communication. She is now more engaging with others and although she has many more goals ahead of her, Crysta is working hard to achieve her fullest potential.
“Every year we see the improvements she has made and we celebrate the small things, for with kids like Crysta, these are big things,” says Cecilia.
Cecilia is passionate about helping others. This is clearly illustrated in her fundraising efforts to help families get connected to the resources that will best serve their child.
Cecilia has taken charge of the fundraising wing of TACA. TACA and Answers for autism collaborated for the second year in a row, putting on an Evening for Autism. This black-tie fundraiser was held in November, wrapping up a very busy week for Cecilia. She won her first public election, running for a Fishers City Council at-large seat, and culminated on Friday night with the Evening for Autism event.
“It was quite the whirlwind week,” says Cecilia.
It was also an exciting time for her husband, Mike.
“It was exciting to go through the political campaign and election,” said Mike. “Everything Cecilia takes on, she gives 110 percent. When she first decided to run, I knew instinctively she would win. She will make an excellent councilwoman. We are so proud of her.”
Cecilia is committed to using her position in part to help give voice to families with special needs.
“During campaign, I met so many people who have a family member with a disability or a special needs child. They expressed their excitement that there was someone representing them on the City Council,” said Cecilia. “Fishers is a wonderful place to live, we have a bright future.”
Her childhood and her legal background, plus her experience as a parent has prepared Cecilia for her new role as councilwoman.
“Growing up, we would have family dinners when we would talk politics, try to come up with solutions to the world’s issues,” recalls Cecilia.
Her parents and siblings grew up staying engaged in their community. Cecilia has carried that forward, for in addition to TACA, she is on the Christamore House Guild, and also helps her a dear friend who is battling Huntington’s Disease.
“Having a child with autism has only enriched our lives,” shares Cecilia. “We are very blessed with what we have been given.”
Mike echoes Cecilia’s sentiment, “We are a close family, and with us all working together to help Crysta has only brought us closer.”
For additional information and to find out how you can help Talk About Curing Autism, visit TACAnow.org.