The McCrimmon Award is named for Ed McCrimmon, a longtime member of the Autism Society of North Carolina staff. He was known for his outstanding dedication and integrity as he served individuals with autism. Tragically, he died in 2017. The McCrimmon Award was established to keep Ed’s memory alive, and at the same time, celebrate others like him who give their heart and soul in providing critical care to individuals with autism. This award is sponsored by Rob and Jennifer Christian.
This year, two direct support professionals — Carmen Henwood and Sarah Waller — were chosen to receive the McCrimmon Award for their outstanding work. Learn more about their impact, directly from the people who nominated them:
Nominated by Becky Webb
Carmen is a bright light in our home! She is always positive and encouraging as she works with our son. She is such a blessing to our family with her steady guidance and unwavering support. It means so much as a parent for us to have someone so trustworthy to be able to count on, especially over the last year. A year ago, my husband was diagnosed with cancer. It was a complete shock and rocked our world. This would be difficult for any family to deal with, but having a child on the spectrum adds a challenging layer. Carmen has been there every step of the way. She has been so flexible, stepping in to care for our son so I could accompany my husband to his various medical appointments and provide his post-surgical care. We truly would never have made it this far without her care and compassion.
We are overwhelmed with gratitude for the outstanding service she provides for our son. She has gone above and beyond by making his summer fun! She has provided “summer camp at home” activities for our son with a new theme each week for the past 8 weeks. This has truly given our son something to look forward to each week and has kept his mind off of his dad’s recovery. We can’t say enough about the kindness Carmen has shown our family and we are so blessed to have her helping our son navigate through life to reach his highest potential…and to have fun doing it!
Nominated by Natalie Clark
Sarah Waller is an angel that has not received her wings yet. The impact that she has had on my family is incomparable. She came into my family’s life in 2019 when our son was a 5-year-old non-verbal severely autistic, fun, loving boy. We had daily challenges such as limited eating, lack of being potty-trained, communication, and other issues.
In the time that Sarah has been with our son, the growth that he has made has been exponential. All of the challenges that we were unsure if we would ever get past are now in our rearview. The love and grace that she shows my son is unbelievable. He can be very difficult at times, but she conveys the idea that she is structured and he will have to be too. This is of utmost importance and my husband and I feel this skill is what makes her so deserving of this award. The result of that is that she has helped open our son’s mind up to us even more. He is more at ease in spontaneous situations and is comfortable in crowded events. He will at least entertain the idea of eating new foods and enjoying new experiences.
He has grown into a loving 7-year-old boy who will tell you what he wants and can effectively communicate. He is potty-trained. He has such a better quality of life because of Sarah. Sarah truly loves my son. My family truly loves her. She is a part of our family.Tags: ASNC, autism, Autism Society of North Carolina, direct support professional