April is National Autism Awareness Month. And boy howdy, am I ever AWARE of AUTISM this April. !! Two weeks ago, Lil Buzz was diagnosed “moderately autistic” by a specialist in Anchorage.
This diagnosis opens up insurance coverage for a great program that’s available to him, so that’s good. But I’m sitting here, thousands of miles away, feeling really sad. I’m also feeling kinda guilty, because I’m disabled and think a label shouldn’t make me feel sad.
I’m really grateful to the friend who let me talk about how I’m feeling without judging, because it helped me figure out that what’s making me feel sad is that I was in a “he’ll outgrow this” place, but you don’t outgrow autism. It helps to understand. Now I know what to pray about. My friend also shared this video with me. I hope you’ll take time to watch it all. It’s really good.
Mama Buzz is a FABULOUS mom who reminds me a lot of the mom in the video. Lil Buzz is already in some special needs programs, for speech and occupational therapy. Mama Buzz says, “If he wasn’t enjoying it, I wouldn’t send him.” She also loves that his teachers share what they’re doing and listen carefully to what she’s doing and what the other teachers are doing. The focus is totally on what’s best for Lil Buzz.
Tapping the Potential
Kristine Barnett’s son Jacob was diagnosed with autism when he was 2, and doctors said he would never speak. She tried special education programs and therapies aimed at addressing his limitations. When teachers told her there was no hope, she rebelled and took her own path.
“A lot of people thought that I had lost my mind,” she recalls.
Instead of focusing on Jacob’s limitations, Kristine nurtured his interests. Now her 15-year-old son is on track to win a Nobel Prize for his work in theoretical physics.
Relying on the insights she developed at her in-home daycare, Kristine resolved to follow Jacob’s “spark” — his passionate interests. Why concentrate on what he couldn’t do? Why not focus on what he could? This philosophy, along with her belief in the power of childhood play, helped her son grow in incredible ways.
“He liked repetitive behaviors. He would play with a glass and look at the light, twisting it for hours on end. Instead of taking it away, I would give him 50 glasses, fill them with water at different levels and let him explore,” she says. “I surrounded him with whatever he loved.”
The more she did that, the more it worked.