Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Never Land is a Dangerous Place...

Here are ten things I was told my severely autistic son would never do:

1) Your son will never speak if he doesn't have functional language by the age of five.

Done, at age 12. He uses new words daily.

2) Your son will never come home if he ever goes to a residential treatment program.

Done at age 11. I have to admit though, that we dragged him home after he was sexually abused and half starved there. He actually got worse there, behaviorally speaking.
So we trained ourselves to provide education and treatment, and tailored our goals for David aroundwho David is, and what David might wish to learn. Then, we directed our son's treatment at the cost of 140,000 and growing.
It was the best thing we ever did for our child.

3) David will never communicate meaningfully.

Done at age 11.5

4) David will never learn to read.

David does not read like most people do. He spells his answers and communicates on a letter board or keyboard. He learned to read letter by letter instead of in the "sight word" method most of us use.

5) David will never show understanding beyond a 2 year old's level.
You be the judge.

David's favorite book is Stephen Hawking's "A Brief History of Time."

David just passed a grade level science test with a grade of 95. In spite of the fact that he's nonverbal and severely motor impaired.

6) David will never be able to dress himself, cook a meal, use household appliances.

Sigh. Done, done, and again, so done. And my little hunk is very adept at putting together well coordinated outfits.

7) David will never be able to control violent outbursts or aggressions.

Done, done,and done again.

8) David will probably never be able to write his name

Done. He types it, too.
9) David will never have an original idea.
David wrote a stunning and insightful poem in response to Bill Stillman's book, Autism and the God Connection. Mr. Stillman was so moved by it that he mentioned it in the foreward to his upcoming title, Heart Savants.

10) David will never learn a meaningful vocation.

See the stunning necklace at the head of this post?
David has made necklaces like these and dozens of others equally as beautiful. All because we knew to things David could do. String a bead on a cord and imitate patterns.

So, why is it that were we so successful in helping our son progress when multiple experts failed to help our child?

First, we never took that one way trip to Neverland, even when things our son's future looked hopeless.
Second, while experts were so busy telling me what my son could not do, I started by working with the things that I knew he COULD do.
Nobody can do everything. Nearly everyone can do something.

By standard measures, David still tests as severely retarded and is deemed unable to live a "productive" life.



jen said...

I'm excited to see that you are moving your blog over to Revolution Health. I wanted your readers to have a link to the preview site before it opens to the public so they could rate your blog and make sure it's one of the favorite resources for autism. We're looking for feedback from people like your readers. Here's a special link: http://www.revolutionhealth.com/preview?code=Mv8spkFzMV

(Full disclosure: I work at Revolution)

jen said...

Looks like the link got cut off: