Autism was a term I never heard before, it certainly didn’t sound intimidating. It all started with something so little, Joey stares through me and doesn’t look at me. Someone on the outside may not have noticed, but a mother knows. It was time for me to get some answers.
After Joey was diagnosed, the long weeks of back to back therapies and meetings began. Some nights I cried myself to sleep. I questioned constantly, “Am I doing enough?” That is when I realized, no one will fight harder for Joey than I will, and I have got to find a way. I would visit his school to observe the way they taught Joey, so I had a better understanding. I never missed an opportunity of free education by watching the occupational, physical and speech therapists, and realizing I can incorporate all of these things into my son’s routine.
Once our game plan was in place, Joey was ready to begin his one on one schooling with me. Little did I know, it would be Joey who would teach me a thing or two. Some activities are easy, Joey can match colors and shapes, while other activities like writing, there is some resistance. I know he struggles, but if we keep at it, I know he will get better. In an attempt to teach sequence, Joey will set this activity aside and sign, “all done”, his way of telling me, “not today, Mom”. Perhaps this particular activity is too difficult? How can I make this “Joey friendly”? Tomorrow it will get reintroduced, more simplified.
Introducing Joey to PECS, (Picture Exchange Communication System) was a blessing and he made huge strides in communicating his wants and needs. I was able to broaden our horizons by creating reward and behavior chart, to address all behaviors teaching him consequence and rewarding good/appropriate behavior. We were able to upgrade this system to his iPad with GOTalkNow+, which is still a work in progress, but I have faith. Joey will get there.
On this journey, Joey was the one who taught me how to think outside of the box. He has taught me unbelievable patience. Joey shows less resistance to new knowledge and soaks it up like a sponge, showing me, it is never too late.
Finally, Joey has taught me autism isn’t intimidating at all.
Written By: Tara Simpson
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