April is Autism Awareness Month. Like I’ve said before, I love when my worlds of photography and occupational therapy can come together. Meet my friend Andrew. His mom, Maria, would like to tell you a little about him:
“My little angel has brought light to our lives for 6 1/2 years. We notice he was different because he didn’t sit by himself at 6 months old, he started to crawl around 91/2 months old, and he didn’t walk until he was 19 months. We started to notice he wasn’t looking at us or talking to us. At age 3 he was diagnosed with Autism, it was the worst day our lives. I never thought that something could hurt that much, but it did. We felt fear and pain. I lost every hope when the doctor told me he will not talk, he will not be able to be like the kids his age. My heart was broken…Until we heard someone say that God gives special kids to special parents and I understood that God chose us because he trusts us to take care of one of his purest and and most precious children, my son Andrew.
He didn’t have more than 6 words in his vocabulary until I went to Masachussests for the SonRise Program to be trained as a parent to work with my son. We worked with him Monday trough Sunday every day for several months and his vocabulary grew to more than 300 words. He has known the 50 states since he was 4. He also started learning to add, to spell, and to count at that age. The progress was hard but our motivation was looking at him growing and at least saying his needs, he was playing with us, he was looking at us more, and we were starting to connect with each other.
We have angels coming to the house starting with Mary Huszsca as his OT , then Debra Rains as his ST, and then his lovely ABA therapists Susan and Amantha. These ladies believed in Andrew and now he continues to progress with their help.
Yes, he is different, but he has a golden heart. He hugs us and kisses us and he is very lovely. It is still hard to look at other kids his age. It is hard to live with autism. Some people don’t understand that living with autism is hard. It is hard for the family, it is hard for the person who lives with autism-both trying to be in a world that doesn’t understand them. Ignorance is everywhere, but my hope is that people will learn to respect and help families with autism. Some people see Andrew and think he’s just a kid with bad behavior…”you don’t know how to handle your own child” “you are a bad parent because he is acting like that because you let him.” I see them looking, but I don’t get the chance to say “His sensory system works differently than yours-he’s overstimulated because there’s so much noise and sound right now.” I don’t get a chance to say “He has a communication disorder and he’s frustrated right now because he can’t put a sentence together to tell me what he’s upset about.”
He is different and I just try to go into his world and slowly bring him to mine.
I love my son with all my heart and I will never change any part of the autism journey with him. I love every single moment of being his mom, and I enjoy every little step that he makes because is an accomplishment of mine.
I love you Andrew from the bottom of my heart and we will always be with you to help you and protect you because you are our gift from God to us. I love you baby boy.”