When you meet a mom like Kelly Branco this mom of 3 is the author of this incredible book titled My Sister Maddie, which is book about neurodiversity from the perspective of a loving sibling who sees their sister as a superhero given her unique perspective on life.
Where are you from originally and how long have you lived in town?
I am originally from Waterbury, CT. My husband and I have lived in Westchester for 11 years, 6 of which have been
in Chappaqua, NY where we currently live with our three children.
Child(ren) and Age(s)? Madeline (6) in 1 st grade at Roaring Brook Elementary School, Charlotte
(4) in her last year of Prek at World Cup and Theodore (3) also at World Cup. We are fans of
nicknames so they are all go by Maddie, Charlie and Teddy.
One thing people would be surprised to know about you…
While I am professionally a CFO and CCO at an asset manager, and have been in finance for about 17 years, I originally wanted to
pursue a musical theatre career when in high school. I actually met my husband while doing
community theatre at 10 and 11 years old, and we love playing the piano and singing at home
as a family often.
Anyone special you’d like to thank for helping you through parenthood?
I have to thank my supportive husband who has been a stay at home dad since our oldest was born. We truly are a
team and I wouldn’t have been able to excel in my career in such a short period of time without
the support he offers to our entire family.
Favorite things to do with your kids?
We love going to lunch together as a family on the weekends. It is such a nice opportunity to talk to the kids about their week or watch a football game over a plate of French fries. We also love playing and listening to music together. All of
our children have gravitated toward music from a young age and it has been a great way to
bond as a family. Also, LEGOLAND is a HUGE family favorite when we can day the day trip
How has this community been instrumental in getting you to where you are now?
I have been fortunate enough to find a great group of moms in town who have been so supportive in our
journey as a family. We connect on a variety of levels, and I now know what it means to find
those people you can truly connect with, whether it be grabbing a casual glass of wine or a
compassionate shoulder to lean on in more challenging times.
Tell us about your new book and what the inspiration was to write it?
Both my brother and oldest of three children, Maddie, have autism diagnoses so I have been a part of the autism
community for nearly all my life. I have always been an autism advocate, whether it be raising
money for fundraisers, volunteering after school at programs for children with special needs or
acting as Special Education Committee Co-Chair at my daughter’s school. Having both the
perspective of a sibling and now parent of a neurodivergent individual made me believe I had a
true purpose in spreading a message of awareness and inclusion.
In April of this year, I went into the Chappaqua elementary schools and spoke about autism awareness with the 2nd -4th graders. I shared a video of my brother sharing what autism means to him and how to be a good friend to someone who may be different from you. Following the video, I opened the conversation up to the children so they had an opportunity to ask questions. Hearing them share
their interest in learning more about those with autism was such a fulfilling experience, I knew I
had to do more to spread awareness at a young age. I soon after began writing my book “My Sister Maddie” which offers a very light introduction to neurodiversity from the perspective of a loving sibling who sees their sister as a superhero given her unique perspective on life.
I pulled from my experiences as a sibling, as well as my observations as a parent, and painstakingly
made an attempt at the art myself. I wanted the main character to really look like my daughter
and I included her siblings in the book as theirs is really the voice I am sharing. I hope the book
is shared in school districts in an effort to make other children more aware of neurodivergent
individuals at a young age and show those children that it is ok to ask questions. Asking
questions just shows you care, yet as adults I think we can let the concern over saying the right
thing overwhelm the good intention of wanting to be a good friend to someone. I want children
to ask how my daughter’s speech development is going, I want my daughter to be invited to
parties even though she may only be able to stay for 20 minutes because she might get
overwhelmed by a lot of noise, I want other moms to lean on me as a friend without worrying I
will compare their struggles to my own. We as parents should not be in competition with each
other for who has it the hardest, or who has the most perfect family dynamic. We all have
different perspectives and can have compassion for the mom who is concerned her child skips a
number when counting to ten as much as the mom who is concerned because her child still
doesn’t say “I Love You” at 5 years old. We are all going through this parenthood journey and
trying our best, and we should celebrate the accomplishments and empathize with the concerns
as all feelings are valid and coming from a place of wanting the best for our children. I hope by
beginning the conversation about neurodiversity in preschool or elementary school through
sharing my book makes the next generation more comfortable learning about, and empathizing
with, others who may have a unique perspective. I like to use the analogy of a superhero first
getting their super powers. It may take some time to harness the powers you were granted, and
having supportive friends can help in this process, but once those powers are harnessed having
a unique and genuine perspective of the world is truly an amazing thing we can all learn from.
Tell us your faves
Favorite date night spot Modern Barn in Armonk, NY
Favorite restaurant to go as a family The Sailhouse in Tarrytown
Favorite place to go out with friends Tipsy Taco in Mt. Kisco
Favorite place to go to have fun as a family LEGOLAND in Goshen, NY
You can meet Kelly and Maddie on December 5th at Scattered Books in Chappaqua.
Looking to purchase this amazing book:
Hip Kid in Chappaqua will be carrying it soon if you want to grab it locally!