Autism Pride Day – A Time to Reflect
For me Autism Pride Day is a time to reflect back on the progress my son Daniel has made and to remember all those along the way who have helped him live happily and now somewhat independently with his diagnosis. His teachers and aides have always brought out the best in him, no matter what setting they were in. We moved around New Jersey as he grew to make sure the services provided met his needs and never regretted any placement. His doctors from his first regression at age 23 months, to the practitioners he now sees who address his symptoms and not his label have made such a huge difference in his quality of life.
Daniel is diagnosed with autism, but he doesn’t excel at 3 point shooting, or have the savant skills that are portrayed in some movies. He spoke early on, but lost all his language and didn’t even attempt to use real speech until he was almost 10. We never gave up working with him and eventually he found a little piece of his voice. He still doesn’t initiate a conversation but he has a way to communicate that speaks volumes, especially with his devilish smile. He had a difficult time in his mid teens and the future looked very dark indeed but no one gave up. By focusing on his gastric issues and his other medical needs things eventually settled down but many learned behaviors still were a daily concern. As we looked ahead we saw the school years ending in our future and realized he needed something else. We never expected what would happen next.
For 10 years I had known about the Stewart Home School through my work with an organization called VOR. I had the ability to visit the school often over the years and got to know Sandra and David always thinking to myself “are they for real?”. About 5 years ago I just about bullied a friend into sending her son to the Stewart Home School. He thrived, I watched his growth and 2 years ago when I visited I saw the man he had become not the child I had known. So I left that day thinking what am I waiting for? Yes I will miss him and yes it’s scary but if not now when? We arranged a visit and got all our ducks in a row and almost a year ago the boy who always had a one on one aide and was never alone, was off to Kentucky.
I’ll jump ahead now to today and happily say he is doing great! He lost almost 40 pounds from the inactivity of living at home. He independently goes from class to class, activity to activity, all the while finding his way back independently to his room. He has friends and yes even a girlfriend. He is surrounded by love! He lives with people of various abilities, who all posses such wonderful souls and have served as the greatest peer models I could ever have hoped for. His house mom has never missed a beat and had him figured out before we even left the driveway.
So we are proud of our boy and especially proud of ourselves for letting the Stewart Home School’s love make him a Happy Young Man.