Spotlight on Carolyn Shindler, Parent Representative


Being new to Autism Tennessee, I can tell you first hand how insanely important Carolyn is to the organization. As our Parent Representative, Carolyn uses her life experience as a mother of a child on the spectrum to assist other families as they search for resources. I’ve heard her console a parent desperate for services, laugh with a parent who shared a story that only an “autism mom” would appreciate, and celebrate with a parent who shared a recent milestone with her. Just this week, she helped a young man on the autism spectrum fill out an employment application. I’m amazed by her work and felt like we all needed to take a moment and get to know the woman on the other end of the line. -Babs


Carolyn is our Parent Representative. She answers the phone and provides information and compassion to those seeking resources. We thought it might be nice for you to get to know the voice on the other end of the phone so we asked her a few questions. 

Describe your experience with Autism Tennessee in three sentences.

When I was first starting out on the autism journey 20+ years ago, there was no Autism Tennessee (or even ASMT!), so we parents started our own support group called PAC (Parents of Autistic Children).  I gained so much knowledge and support from that group that when I was asked to join the newly-revamped Autism Society of Middle Tennessee back in 1998, I jumped at the chance to give back to the community that had helped me so much.  Working here has been life-changing and, at times, even life-saving for me!

Share a favorite moment or memory from your work at Autism Tennessee.

After 17 years, there are just so many wonderful moments and lasting memories, that noting just one would be a disservice to the others.  The most lasting and ongoing benefits I’ve received from Autism Tennessee are the friendships that I’ve made through this association.  My life is so much fuller for knowing all of you!

In your words, what value does Autism Tennessee add to the community?

Unless you’ve tried to navigate a new diagnosis of autism on your own (as many of us “oldtimers” were forced to do), you can’t really appreciate how much better it’s become since Autism Tennessee (formerly ASMT) came into existence!  Having a place where you can get resources, connect with other parents, and learn more about this often puzzling disorder is, in my view, a Godsend.

Tell us a bit about you.

I’ve been married to my sweetheart, Bruce, for 27 years, and we have one son, Joshua, who is 25 and on the autism spectrum.  We’ve lived in the beautiful community of Kingston Springs in Cheatham County for the past 24 years, sharing our home with a menagerie of two dogs (Annie & Jenny) and two cats (Lexie & Stuffey…long story there!).  My husband just retired last year after working 40+ years in the music industry and now works part-time at Cumberland Heights as a Clinical Associate.

What is something about you that people would be surprised to know?

Since I was 42 when my son was born, I’ve obviously had a life BA (Before Autism).  I previously was the Country Editor of a trade publication called R&R (Radio & Records) prior to moving to Nashville from Los Angeles in 1983 and starting my own independent record promotion company.  Prior to that I worked in radio in Philadelphia, Richmond, and Indianapolis, so I’ve been fortunate enough to meet and work with many recording artists through the years, as well as live in some really great places!

Tell us your favorites.

My favorite dessert is anything that has icing on it!  Love, love, love my herbal tea and my morning coffee!  Favorite holiday is Christmas because I love the way the house looks all decorated (if someone else would decorate it for me, I’d love it even more!).  I’ve been to so many beautiful vacation spots over the years, that’s a hard one to pick, but I’d probably say my favorite was when I got to cross a trip to Australia off my bucket list back in 2005.  I have become a big Titans fan (although they’d better step it up this year or they might lose me!) and still follow my “home” Philadelphia teams, the Eagles, Flyers, and Phillies.  You can take the girl out of Philly, but you…well, you know the rest!!

Now that you know a bit more about Carolyn, consider becoming a member of Autism Tennessee so you can stay connected to our work!


    Tracy O'Neill | September 24, 2015 at 9:30 pm

    I loved this Spotlight section!! Thank you for all you do to help us!!

    Bess Stark | September 24, 2015 at 9:02 pm

    Carolyn, this interview says it all about how us parents & grandparents from the 1990’s had no idea of where to turn for help but I am so thankful that I found ASMT and you, Tammy, John, Liesa & all the wonderful people I have met & cried with. I remember calling you years ago in tears because my grandson had had a melt down at Vanderbilt Medical Center & the security guard have him & his mother in a small room for hrs. saying they could not reach his Dr. on the phone. I called you and you listened & helped instantly and the problem was solved within minutes. I live in Alabama & my grandson is an adult now but I still thank God I found you and Autism Tennessee. Thanks for helping this grandmother.

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