LIFE IS A SPECTRUM

Life is a spectrum, and of course, so is autism. The main theme of this blog is the old adage, "if you've met one person with autism...you've met one person with autism." With that in mind, I wanted to reach out across the breadth of the spectrum, and invite some of my favorite bloggers to share their stories: of special needs parenting, of living on the spectrum, and of living WITH autism.

Today, I'm lucky enough to share a lovely and inspirational post from Ann, whose little "professor" is the shining star of her blog ...

Always a Champion!!

Myprofessor

Ann and her champion :-)

Too often I find myself envious of friends who have kids around the same age as Josh. How exciting it would be to watch him play ball, any kind of ball for that matter. The thrill of that first hit, striking the batter out or scoring the game winning run! Some days I would settle for getting him to simply ride a bike or just go for a little swim in the lake. I truly enjoy watching my friends cherish these moments their children will remember for a lifetime. However, that’s not my boy at all… Legos, video games and yes Minecraft is how he’d rather be spending his day. Too many sensory issues, lack of gross/fine motor skills and anxiety have kept him from enjoying many things most of us take for granted.

While going through some old photos I began thinking back on the earlier years. This is something I have avoided for several years now. Whenever a friend says “oh remember when they were little, don’t you miss those days?” I can honestly say yes I remember and NO I don’t miss a lot about those days. It makes me sad because Josh is an only child and I know I shouldn’t feel this way. Only another Mom of a child on the spectrum can truly understand what I’m trying to say here.

During those early play group days at around 2 years old it wasn’t easy watching all the other kids play together while Josh, if we were lucky, played alongside of them. They began to talk and develop friendships while Josh was just sort of ‘hanging’ in there. This was when the parade of birth to three therapists entered the picture. For the next year, 3x a week, it was a speech therapist, occupational therapist or physical therapist knocking on my door. Believe me when I tell you they worked him hard! Before I could blink my baby was entering Pre-K at The Sherman School.

As we begin to prepare for middle school I’ve decided to take some time to look back and really think about all he has actually overcome. Here are just a few examples.

Then

In Preschool Josh didn’t speak very much. The first year was spent more running laps around the room, lining up toys during play time and how could I forget the daily ritual of walking up and down the fence each day while he chanted “cross the white line” over and over. This was a child who until he was four couldn’t figure out how to climb onto a chair without assistance. He didn’t like to swing on the swings, catch a ball or engage in play with other children without constant prompting from a teacher or a para.

There really is so much that he has overcome during his elementary days, I couldn’t possibly list them all here but I’ll share a few of the monumental ones.

This was a child who walked the halls, head down most of the time. When a friend, a best friend, would say hello to him he wouldn’t answer back. Until about the 3rd grade he needed us to prompt him to answer back when spoken too (actually, we still do at times).

Josh also learns differently than his peers and figuring out his style wasn’t easy. It took a lot of hard work on his part and on the part of his teachers, paras and therapist to find ways to best help him. I guess you could consider his teachers his coaches as well. With their constant guidance, support and their cheering him on he has begun to accomplish more than I have ever expected. We have a long road ahead but Josh has some of the best coaches a child could ever ask for!

Now

Well, I’m happy to announce he no longer runs laps around the room or walks up and down the fence…not that I know of any way (LOL). He still struggles with gross/fine motor skills but you can always find him running, climbing and yes even swinging or spinning on the playground with his friends. He has even discovered a new like for running. It’s not love yet but at least he’s involved in an actual sport now! I’m afraid his first loves will ALWAYS be Legos, video games and any computer gaming obsession of the moment. He’s definitely my techno kid…

School will always be a little challenging for him but unlike the earlier days he engages much more with his teachers and peers. This was a child who in the beginning of 3rd grade was barely reading on a 1st grade level. Through hard work, practice and help from his coaches I'm happy to say by the end of 5th grade he was reading on a 5th grade level. This was the first year Josh didn't need summer school for reading...an out of the park Home Run as far as I'm concerned!!!

As he has gotten older he has also become more confident in himself and who he is. Last year, with the help of a few of his coaches, he helped create The Sherman School’s first annual autism awareness day (“Light It Up Blue” day). As everyone wore their blue I was told that day he walked those halls head held high with pride! This was a turning point for him, he’s beginning to advocate for himself now. In an article that followed Sherman’s autism awareness day Josh was asked what did he hope his fellow classmates and teacher’s learned from “Light It Up Blue” day? His reply, “It’s nice for kids know it is okay to have friends with and without autism. I’m really not that different. There’s nothing wrong with how my brain works, it just work a little different.” Josh may never be involved in your ‘typical’ sporting events but he will always be my champion!!!

Now with middle school quickly approaching we find ourselves beginning a new chapter of our journey. A chapter that is sure to be filled with pimples, hormones and a whole new list of social skills that will need to be taught to him. Lucky for Josh that I have a lot of patience, lucky for me that he is a quick learner and lucky for us both that he has the best coaches helping him out along the way!

I feel like I have only scratched the surface when it comes to talking about all he has accomplished the list continues to grow daily. I could go on and on but it may begin to get a little 'wordy' here. Remember… I’m not a writer (net yet anyway), just a mom with BIG mouth who is more than proud of her child for being exactly who he is!

Thanks for taking the time read this…
J Ann

Please show Ann some love and visit http://joshsmomfirst.blogspot.com. Let her know you "met" her at LifeIsASpectrum.com!

Interested in guest-blogging? Drop me a line with a link to your blog at AmandaBroadfoot@gmail.com. I'll be happy to add a link to your blog on LifeIsASpectrum and return the favor by guest-blogging upon request.

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Thanks for asking me to guest blog!

Thanks again for asking Amanda! It was an honor to share with you and all your followers... <3

Thank you so much for sharing!

Ann, I'm so happy to have your post up here and I look forward to following the adventures of you and your little professor :-)

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