Autism: A Message of Hope after a Diagnoses
Learning brought about a new boy.
After a Diagnoses of Autism
When my son was 2, he was diagnosed with Austim. Little did I know then but that was a turning point in our lives.
Because of his diagnoses he was entitled to free in home help. A teacher came to my house once a week to help him speak. She also helped him with some of his motor skills. My son loved this one on one attention.
When he turned 3, he was sent to school. This was a half day experience. He was around other kids who suffered anything from autism to down syndrom to physical disabilites. He was in a 3-4 year old class. He went to the public schools and we were offered free bus use, if we needed it. There was one teacher and one aid. There was also a glass , mirrored ,window that separated his schoolroom from a private room where I was welcome to sit and observe one day.
When he first started school, he had a hard time. With the gentle patience of teachers and aids , he came to love going. Everything was on a routine and he did very well in this environment. They, like his home teacher before, worked on everything from speech to motor skills. He was also sent ,twice a week, to a specialized speech therapists.
Also, at this time, my sister-in-law purchased the set of books and videos from You're Baby Can Read. This was a big hit. He devoured these tools and learned to read very quickly. In fact, the more he learned , the happier he became. Talking replaced crying. Predictable, everyday routines brought balance and peace.
I also benefited from a few hours of peace each day. I missed him but having some down time helped with my own sanity. I also met other parents of special-needs kids. Most importantly, the teachers and the aids gave me advice and skills to try at home. They spoke to me from experience and I learned new things.
Once every school year, the teachers, therapists, school principal, and I would have IEP meetings. At these meetings , we would discuss their goal for Sam in the coming year. They welcomed my comments and asked how he was doing at home. When a goal was met, a new goal was given.
By 5 years old, he began to visit a regular kindergarten class for 45 minutes everyday. He was required to do as the other children did. This time was usually in the morning because he did better at that time of day. Also, by age 5, he was in school all day long. The rest of the day was spent in a special-ed class of children with various needs and ages ranging from 5 - 2nd grade. He loved it. There was a main teacher in this class and 4 aids. At the end of school day, one of his aids would walk him to my car. I never worried about his safety because he always had an aid with him wherever he went.
I might add that with a diagnoses of autism , socialization can be a concern. At the school, he was taught how to make eye contact and engage with other kids his age. Sam learned to say "hi" and to have the normal conversations that the rest of us don't even think about. They also did a fun thing called jobs. Each child dressed in a uniform and donned a name tag. They were then required to say "Hi, my name is Sam, and I am a pilot" etc. Sam always chose a pilot but there were many to choose from.
By the time he was 6, they sent him to regular first grade all day with an aid. He had a hard time at first keeping up. Whenever something didn't set right with him , the aid was on hand to help. At recess, he had a hard time with the whislte that told everyone that recess was over. He would play with his hands over his ears the entire time. His aid walked with him around the playground when the whistle would blow. I bought him a watch so that he would know when the whistle would blow. Between the two of us, he overcame his fear. I know it doesn't seem like much but as a parent of an autistic child ,it felt like conquering a mountain.
As the end of the year approached, his time with his aid was cut back slowly. They were trying to prepare him to be on his own the next year. Their job was to make him more and more independent. By the end of the year, he went to class by himself and took care of himself like the other children. He walked himself to the car every afternoon and became resposnsible for his own schoolwork (well as resposible as a first grader can be).
If you have an autism diagnoses and things are feeling hopeles, let me offer a few words of encouragement.
Don't give up hope. If help is offered, take advantage of it.
Ask questions. I learned more from the aids and teachers of my son than I did from the countless books I read. Besides, talking things out just makes you feel better.
Struggles will come but you might be amazed at what your child can do.
I highly recommend Your Baby Can Read dvd's, books, and flash cards. My son learned to read at a very young age and he thoroughly enjoyed them.
Some of the nicest people I have ever met in my life are because of my son. Knowing that other people are going throught the same thing you are, makes life just a little bit easier. Also, the teachers and aids ,that work with these children, are amazing.
I hope that my experience with austism can help and inform you if you are just beginning on your journey. There will be days when you want to give up and when things seem too hard but don't loose heart. This last year brought about an award for my son. He was rewarded for making an impact on the lives of the teachers and students in his school. He teaches me everyday that God doesn't make mistakes. He never gives us more that we can handle. When I look back 5 years ago to that diagnoses , I realize that that was our turning point. That day we were given hope , I just didn't know it at the time.
Update on Sam
My son is now 8 years old and he can swim and he just learned to ride a two wheel bike. He is in the second grade in school and he is doing really well. He quietly draws for hours. I think it is his stress release. He is talking well and while he is still 'different' than other children he tries his best.