Jack is 8 yrs old. At 18 months, we suspected he was on the spectrum. At 20 months, he was diagnosed with ASD, mild CP, and Sensory Processing Disorder. He has received early interventions since he was two. He could not speak and did frequent verbal stimming and hand flapping. The stimming today is still a tool he uses to regulate his body when he is overstimulated from his surrounding environment. The difference is, today, he interacts with his peers more. He has conversations and he is a funny, smart, and loving boy. My world, and those who know him, are better for knowing and loving Jack. His school has a daily lunch bunch where he plays cooperative games with two typically developing peers. This has transformed his ability to engage and form friendships. He is now having playdates with some of those friends. (Not nearly as many as I would like, but it’s a start). Two friends came over last month and because Jack is not able to athletically keep up with them physically, due to his coordination impairment from CP, they played “News reporters” with a giant projector’s screen. I heard from their moms that both kids had fun.J Jack loved being the weatherman.
He is fascinated with electronics and is gifted with computers. He searches on Youtube for info on “Configuring Windows.” Once, when he was sick with the flu, we went to the pediatricians. He asked each person that we walked past what operating system they were on. “Is that Windows 7?” he’d ask. Each person replied “Windows 10.” Jack said to his doctor, “you are on Windows 7?” The doctor said “It should be Windows 10, or we were robbed.” Jack insisted Windows 7, so his doctor looked at their control panel and sure enough, they were on Windows 7. The doctor asked Jack to be his IT guy, and Jack was happy to find out he was right. We are blessed with people all around us who put the time in to those moments that contribute to the shift and change that help create a better future for Jack. Those moments where many times people are caught up in the fast pace of their own world, but for the people who take time to know the child with autism, it is a gift for that child, their family and a chance to develop the social skills needed to function in society. I wish this for all of our special children: to be heard, for the voice they fought so hard to have! When they are upset, LISTEN, because a slight adjustment in our approach can help resolve their frustrations and allow them to access the work, the conversations, and the friendships.
I am thankful to all the special people who devote their lives to helping these children be successful in life. We are still climbing that hill and still have hurdles and obstacles that are in front of us. The people who help us: our daughter, who has been Jack’s playmate and peer role-model, the doctors, the therapists (OT, PT, Speech, ABA), our Church, our friends and some of their children, and our extended family, are all pieces in Jack’s puzzle.