Mascot Update

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.

2014_04 13 L&W flew to Anchorage to see specialist

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.

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2 responses to “Mascot Update

  1. Ting

    Oh, dear. This is a lot for a grandmother thousands of miles away. I am hopeful, though, because you say that the diagnosis is “mild” and he is getting some good intervention at an early age.

    I know a young man who is 23 years old, who was diagnosed with autism at around 4 years old. He went to public school, and even went to college. He spent his senior year in an international program in Norway, and loved it so much that he has stayed on in Finland, working in a computer-related field. The very idea that he would go to college was something his parents did not dare dream. That he would be able to study abroad was something that never crossed their minds as being remotely possible. That he is able to support himself in a foreign country, with no prior contacts there, is an absolute miracle. So remember this boy, Sebastian, when your spirits start to sag.
    I am praying for Little Buzz and his devoted family.


    • chrissythehyphenated

      The part in the video where the mom talks about her son studying water in glasses reminded me of Buzz. When he was still crawling, they had a HUGE closet in their home and he owned about a dozen balls, all different sizes and materials. For quite a long while, he would take all his balls into that closet each day and spend an incredible amount of time bouncing them off the walls. We were astonished at his persistence and long attention span for this activity and suspected he was studying the balls’ behavior as they angled off the various walls, noting how the different sizes and materials behaved. We think there’s a great big brain in that cute head that just needs some help learning how to use itself better.