Since her four-year-old son Brayden was diagnosed with autism, Jenna Kloeckner, a resident of Menomonee Falls, Milwaukee, has been on a mission to raise autism awareness. She is pursuing that goal through an online clothing business selling T-shirts, tank tops, hoodies, sweatshirts, and more, all with the distinctive logo “DIF KND.” As Kloeckner explains on her website, difknd.com, the letters stand for “Different Kind,” representing that differences should be celebrated and embraced.
“It's OK to be different. Be kind to those that are," the website states. According to a report this month by the news outlet Journal Sentinel.com, Kloeckner’s business tagline is "Support autism with style.” In its report, Journal Sentinel noted that for every order placed, a sensory bag is donated to a public establishment in the zip code where the customer lives. That establishment can be selected either by Kloeckner or the customer themselves.
Kloeckner and her partner, Heidi, realized that something was out of place with Brayden before his diagnosis, due to noticeable delays in speech and learning to walk.
Kloeckner also noted that lack of awareness and understanding of autism remains a problem, explaining that on occasions when Brayden has had a meltdown in public, many bystanders impolitely stared, likely due to not understanding what was taking place and the fact that it was connected to autism.
Sensory bags provide relief and distraction when children with autism and their families are in public, Kloeckner said. Thus far, 75 bags have been donated thanks to DIF KND.
“I would love to see the bags everywhere," Kloeckner said. "It should be a staple."