My daughter, Aimee, is autistic. She didnt talk and would not give me any eye contact. I had traveled to visit my mother, and before I left, I had purchased pull-ups for nighttime, but I forgot to bring them.
It was evening and Aimee had some orange juice. She gave me the sign language for more. I then said (more or less to myself rather than her), "Oh, I forgot the pull-ups. Im afraid if you have too much to drink youll wet the bed. I shouldve brought them." She continued to sign "more." I continued to mutter. Finally, she looked me in the eyes, and fervently said, "I," pointing to herself, "want more," giving sign for more, "or-ange juice, please." Needless to say she got her juice! - L.T., Hamilton, NJ
I am not a parent, but a proud older sister of a 15-year-old brother who is blind and autistic. As a child, Meir would constantly get upset when something would bother him. Getting upset included screaming uncontrollably and getting completely out of hand. With the loving and constant guidance of my parents, Meir (even though he has a long way to go), expresses himself way better than before. - S.S., Brooklyn, NY
My youngest son, Brayden, was born three months premature with heart and brain defects. He is now 4 ½ years old. He is multi-handicapable. When he was young, the doctors told us he probably wouldn't survive, much less ever sit, walk, talk, or eat. He began eating orally a year and a half ago. He began talking one year ago, and is now nearly age appropriate in expressive communication! The most exciting accomplishment, however, is his walking. He had a bilateral tendon release on his hamstrings and gastrocs last November. Since recovering from the surgery, he began pulling to stand, cruising furniture, and could take up to 6 independent steps, even without his walker! Only other parents of children with special needs can understand the intense emotion that surrounds such feats!
Now, he is walking around the house with little assistance and now able to squat to pick something up and stand up again without help!! I cannot wait for the day that he can walk up to those nay-saying doctors and show them who is really in charge!! - J.B., Bartlesville, OK
My almost 7-year-old is only about 4 months in her development and very tiny (the size of a 15-month-old). She has never done anything "age appropriate" til now... she just lost her first tooth and has 3 more loose ones, just like a "normal" 6-year-old. It's funny to see my family so excited about something so small to most people. - J.J., Denton, MD
I would like to share with you my story of my son. "S" was born at 26 weeks gestation weighing 880 grams (1 lb. 15 oz). After 81 days in the NICU and a typical course of being a preemie with all of their complications, he came home weighing 4 lbs. 3 oz. Such a joy! He received early intervention services for a time, but was discharged after about a year because he was hitting his developmental milestones and seemed to be on track.
When he was 18 months old, we were in a car wreck which left him a low-level quadriplegic. After five months of the ICU, rehab, and another stay in the ICU, he came home. Such a joy! He again received early intervention services under a new diagnosis and later was transitioned into the school system for services. He has since had multiple hospitalizations for pneumonia, seizures, and surgeries (the most recent being anterior and posterior spinal fusion).
"S" is now 13 years old and a Boy Scout Second Class. Two weeks ago he was inducted into the National Junior Honor Society - SUCH A JOY! I am very proud of my son! - A.S., Fredericksburg, VA
My son, Christian, was born with a genetic anomoly (2p+) and has since been diagnosed with autism. My wife and I went through the typical grieving and realignment of our own expectations through his younger years. Through all of the doctors, teachers and therapists, we have asked for just one blessing for our family: We prayed that he would be able to communicate with us.
We moved to Houston a couple of years ago and enrolled him in the school program. He has a teacher that loves him dearly and several assistants that take exceptional care of him. His language skills had blossomed from a single word to several one-word responses in a short period of time. One weekend, my wife had left town to attend a family wedding, and I had stayed behind with Christian and his brother, Noah. We went to a local amusement restaurant, since they enjoy playing the games and watching the activities. That evening, as we drove home from the restaurant, Christian began speaking in whole sentences and just "talked my leg off" the entire way home. We joked and he told me all about his evening. Christian's language explosion has continued for several months and has even expanded. He is able to communicate all of his wants and needs and is able to respond to many questions from his parents and teachers.
His language skills are not 100% and they probably never will be, but we could not ask for more than we have already received. Our son can now talk with us and we are grateful. - J.H., Houston, TX
I have so many success stories with my 15-year-old non-verbal autistic son. Communication breakthroughs are my favorites. My favorite moment was when I truly realized that there is a real normal boy inside my son that just can't get out in the typical ways. I had been trying to teach my son how to nod his head yes. He could say the word, "no," but he had no way to indicate the word "yes." So, when he was 13 years old, I decided to work hard on teaching him to nod. He would come home from school and we would work hard on nodding. One day, once again, I said to my son "Eric, nod your head yes," and he looked at me and struggled for a moment and very clearly said, "I can't." I wasn't sure I had heard right so I asked him to nod his head again and he said, "I can't." For two weeks, whenever I asked him to nod, he would say "I can't." I was so incredibly excited. He was right, he couldn't nod his head yes. So, I then taught him to say hmm-mmm for yes and he is able to do that. Now he can communicate yes!
One other moment that truly made me look at Eric different was at lunchtime one day. I was making him choose between lunch items and he was having a hard time. For 15 minutes we went back and forth on choosing. He kept changing his mind. Finally, out of exasperation, he yelled, "Make 'em both!!" My husband and I looked at each other and about died laughing. Guess what? He got both items for lunch!
This boy never ceases to amaze us. He is so intelligent, but he just can't get it out so the world can see. We see, however, and we thank God every day for blessing us with a very special child. - L.P., Kennesaw, GA
They say God only gives special kids to special people, and I really didn't think I was that special to get two of them! But my boys compliment each other well! Matthew keeps Justin physically active and mentally stimulated, and Justin aides Matthew's social abilities and really brings out his personality. They greet each other after school with big hugs - they are brothers AND best friends!!
My oldest son, Justin, is 5 ½ years old and has Down syndrome. He is in a Life Skills class this year, but after Christmas break he started integrating into regular kindergarten class for social times (centers, library, music, recess, etc.). This has helped both his speech and socialization. We just had his end of year ARD and I am very proud of several points. 1) He is scoring, on average, approximately a 4-year-old level academically. 2) He will remain in Life Skills as core class, but has been moved up to FIRST GRADE for inclusion opportunities. 3) Testing done indicated Justin scored 109 in SOCIAL SKILLS (normal range is 90 to 100). He is my social butterfly and everyone instantly falls in love with him. It is nice when I pick him up from school and several other kids from different classes run up to tell Justin "BYE." Everywhere we go, I see kids tapping there mom saying, "Momma, Momma - that's Justin!" He makes me very proud!
Outside of school, we are involved in Special Olympics. He has recently taken pictures on a police motorcycle to be used for fund-raising and at a law enforcement recruitment for personnel to participate in the annual "Torch Run." The Torch Run is law enforcements effort to support Special Olympics both personally and financially.
Justin and Matthew have learned to swim without any "floatie" assistance! They are even diving in the shallow end of the pool picking up objects off the bottom, and swimming greater distances underwater. They go swimming at least 2 or 3 times a day!
We have recently learned that Matthew has a high-functioning form of autism. Although doctors tried to initially account for Matthew's speech delay by having an older sibling with delays, we now know that is not true (and I never believed it anyway!) I do believe, however, that Justin's vibrant personality has helped Matthew have the social skills he does maintain. If it were not for Justin, I believe Matthew would be even more "closed." Academically, Matthew is very advanced. He just turned 4 and can already write and spell at least 10 words, can count to 30, and memorizes everything. I am VERY proud of the accomplishments of BOTH my boys!! - R.M., Port Neches, TX
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