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Our story

30 years ago, three realizations led us to create a nonprofit called Understood.

Every person should have an opportunity to thrive, regardless of how they learn and think. For many of the 1 in 5 people with learning and thinking differences, or around 70 million people in the United States, this is not a reality.

We learned this through personal experience. More than 30 years ago, when we realized that our son Max had a learning and thinking difference, we experienced the challenges and frustrations shared by so many of those on a similar journey. And it is a lifelong journey.

Our experience led us to three realizations, the first being how quickly your world can change when you become aware of a learning and thinking difference, and how much we had to learn.

Second was that it was hard to get the information and understanding we needed to help our child — and that millions of parents were going through the same thing with their kids who learn and think differently. 

Third was the incredible strength that comes from our differences. Max showed us these strengths. Today, he is thriving because of the support we were able to provide as he grew up. Along the way, we also found new strengths and a sense of purpose. And we forged a community.

We channeled those realizations and learnings into Understood — providing parents and families everywhere with the resources, expertise, and community that previously were only available to a few.

Frankly, we didn’t know where this journey would lead us. But we understood that we all know somebody with a learning and thinking difference. They’re our kids, siblings, friends, neighbors, and colleagues. And we knew that if we didn’t do our part, these people could be at high risk of bullying, dropping out of school, or unemployment. They would not be thriving or having a successful journey through life.

Visiting our site today tells us that you care about learning and thinking differences. Perhaps you want to understand so you can help others. Understanding and doing what you can to help are both important steps in shaping a better world for those who learn and think differently — helping them feel less alone and more understood.

As parents, we have seen firsthand that when the individual with learning and thinking differences thrives, those around them thrive too. And that makes the world a better place. 

So welcome to Understood. We’re thrilled that you’ve joined us on this journey.

—Fred and Nancy

“Every person should have an opportunity to thrive, regardless of how they learn and think.”

—Fred and Nancy

Fred & Nancy

More about us

Our mission

We believe everyone deserves to be understood. That’s why shaping the world for difference isn’t just one of our goals — it’s our main goal. Discover how we continue to work toward it by helping the 1 in 5 Americans who learn and think differently.

Get involved

Our partnerships

We work with a diverse group of partners, who all share our passion for shaping the world for difference. See how they collaborate with us on ways to advance our mission.

Learn more

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