Carmel Mom of the Year, Linda Sullivan

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Writer / Neil Lucas

Our Mother of the Year for 2015 is Linda Sullivan. Linda grew up in Indianapolis but graduated from Carmel High School. She and her husband, Brian, have been married for 30 years and have lived in the same house in Carmel for 25 years.

In any number of ways from the outside, Linda appears to have a life that is fairly typical for a lot of mothers that have lived in Carmel for most of their life. However, Linda’s life here in Carmel has been anything but typical.

You see, Linda is the mother to two sons with autism, Kyle, 25 years old, and Drew, 22 years old. Her son, Kyle, was diagnosed when he was three while Linda was pregnant with Drew, who was diagnosed when he was eight months old.

At the time that Kyle was diagnosed, autism was a truly rare condition in which the incidence rate was 1 in 10,000. Today the incidence is one in 68. Not surprisingly, when Kyle was diagnosed, parents were pretty much on their own; there were a no support groups, no books on autism or webites for parents to utilize. Kyle was one of the very first autistic children to be in the Carmel school system.

For 17 years, Linda has been heavily involved in a support group for parents of autistic children called the Autism Asperger’s Parent Network (AAPN). The group meets informally in Carmel on a monthly basis to help parents with autistic children by sharing ideas and information and a bond unique to this group of parents. Because of her long involvement in autism, Linda fields many calls from mothers who are suddenly facing a life dealing with autism.

Linda says she is extremely proud of how her sons have progressed. According to Linda, they have advanced well beyond what she could have dreamed. Her oldest son works about 25 hours a week at a grocery store while her youngest son has three jobs while still receiving training from the Carmel school system.

Linda hopes that someday, they will be able to live independently. Presently, Linda and her recently-retired husband spend a great deal of their time providing transportation for the boys.

Linda represents the best of mothers all over the world that quietly accept the trials and tribulations that motherhood can present without fanfare, celebrity or notoriety. They dedicate their lives to do the best they can to provide a loving and nurturing home for their children. This is why Linda Sullivan is our Mother of the Year.

Debbie Loefgen shared why she nominated her sister: “I was scrolling through my Twitter feed a few months ago and saw that there was a Carmel Mom of the Year contest. I immediately thought of my sister, Linda.

“Yes, she is the mother of two special needs children, but so are a lot of other women. I nominated Linda because I have seen firsthand how she has fought for her boys and how she has put them first before anything else. I’m proud of my sister. It hasn’t always been a walk in the park, but Linda has had a great attitude, always taking one day at a time.”