Monday, May 24, 2010

Beating the Odds - Autism Child With Normal Developing Peers

Yes, it is official. My son William is going to graduate from Pre-K into Kindergarten. It has been a tremendous mountain to climb, but in the end, it has paid off in spades. He will be 5 in September and he will be graduating in a class of his peers. He is very verbal, smart, still a bit light in the social department but he is getting better. His biggest improvement is the fact that he is starting to notice when others are hurt or are in pain. He is compelled to ask if you are allright and wants to rub your back or your face to make sure you are not hurt. SO WONDERFUL! This from a child who 2 years ago, could care less what your facial expressions meant even when you were describing your mood. Now he feels pain, love, sadness, joy and expresses it every moment his he has. He has manners, always asks politely, the occasional tantrum here and there, but nothing like before (where he was kicking and screaming and flopping himself on the floor). He used to bite teachers and other kids, he used to push you around to get what he wanted. Now he asks you politely and with manners to get what he wants. He would kick his shoes off every chance he got. Now he could care less about that and concentrate on his math and trying to write his ABC's.

The other day, when I was picking him up from school, he was sitting at a computer and said "look mommy, i wrote my name!". He typed WILLIAM on the screen in all caps and I almost fainted in the classroom. When his teacher told me he was ready to graduate, my heart stopped. It has taken us so long to find a proper placement for him that I was afraid to embark on a new chapter of his life (finding another typical structured placement for him). But, his teacher insisted that he is smart and a quick learner and his behavior is much improved. I had to give in and say that I would be glad that he graduates to the next level and I never thought I would see the day. The day that my Autistic child would graduate in a class of his peers and be ready for the next level. Throughout all the struggle and heartache came this wonderful story of triumph and tribulation that I can measure and see from 18 months old until now. It is an amazing feeling to step back and not have to over analyze the behaviors and learning difficulties that have challenged him since he was barely 2. I can just sit back and bask in the glow of this moment and hope that there are more good moments like this than the bad moments we've had in the past. I am so proud of him. He brings me joy every day of my life and my life wouldn't be the same without him.

As a parent and his advocate, I have written countless letters, have had at least 5 mediation hearings over IEP disputes, kicked out of over 6 daycare/pre-school facilities for his behavior and suffered a massive loss with the separation of his parents. But alas, he has still triumphed and will be able to start Kindergarten in a regular class environment with TSS support for half the day. We mainly work on his focus on the task now a days, but in the beginning it was everything.

Speech was severely delayed, he did not grasped social concepts like feelings, he would push us around the room in order to request items, he would constantly run and run when bored, he couldn't sit still for a minute to do anything, not even things he liked to do.

Patience, perseverance and understanding has guided me throughout this experience. Through every round of testing, through every report that read that he was at least one and a half years behind typical children, through every doctor that looked at me with a sad expression on their face, we still persevered. If you or any one in your circle lets you start to feel sad about your situation, you need to drop them and fast. This too shall pass and you will join me in the celebration that will give you much fulfillment in the future for you and your child.

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