We didn't get a diagnosis until he was 5, that was totally my fault, when I took him for an "evaluation" I wasn't completely honest on the questionnaires that I had to fill out, I filled them put based on what I wanted him to be capable of not WHAT he could do!!! I stayed in the denial stage for way too long, my denial and ignorance stood in the way of early intervention and services too. Little did I know if you miss the early intervention you pretty much on your own with the school. We tried regular school for 2 years with Memphis city Schools and that was not the right fit for Noah. It was too stressful of an environment. I ended up having to quit work due to health reasons, so we decided to home school Noah. This was one of the best decisions we ever made.
As his stress levels decreased his other skill started to increase! We started ABA therapy that made a HUGE difference unfortunately we are not receiving services at this time because we can't afford it. Noah began to flourish academically and we went to Faith Christian Academy for ABA services and educational support. The director there, Tammy Mullins, worked with me to teach me how to communicate with Noah and better understand autism and his behaviors. No one else had done that, we got our diagnosis and that was that.
So life began to change for us. Are we a "typical" family? NO WAY!!! We are an AU-Some Family!!! Living with autism gives you a different perspective on life for sure. Noah can find beauty in different things in the environment, spider webs are super cool too him, he is also fascinated with ants. Do you know anybody who can sit in the driveway for an hour watching ants??? I am just thrilled he is interacting with his environment.
Our family has even been active with Autism Speaks for a couple of years now! I love this organization because of the contributions that they have made in the field of autism in 6 years. Their contributions to family servies, research, education & advocacy are truly incredible. We were fortunate enough to get into a study for a new drug to help individuals with autism; Autism Speaks was funding the study. The drug is still in the trial phase but it's called STX-209, it has been very helpful for Noah and his communication has improved along with his social skills and behavior too! His cognitive abilities have improved, he plays with more age appropriate toys and he seem sto enjoy things more!! We participated in the study through Vanderbilt CHildren's Hospital in Nashville Tennessee.
So what does our futre hold.....well, services for adolescents and adults are pretty non existent in some areas, so I started back to school a couple of years ago with Liberty University and I will be finished next year with my degree in Psychology. I am starting a nonprofit "Foundation's for the Future" to assist adolescents and adults with autism to teach independent living skills, work related skills & assist with job placement. I would also like to offer some support services for the family as a unit. It is very difficult on siblings of children with autism too. The family will need support with transitions too.
Awareness and education about autism are things that I am extremely passionate about. I love this month of April, this past April I was fortunate enough to be involved with Hernando Mississippi's Light It Up Blue Celebration!!! It was AWESOME! I think the whole town came out to support Autism Awareness! Then my family and I were invited to Elvis's Graceland for The Light It Up Blue "Flip the Switch" ceremony!!! It was an awesome event and I was so happy to be a part of it!
I am not sure what they future holds for our family, but whatever it may be we will be together and loving each other every single day.
Interested in writing our next guest post? Please check out our guidelines here for more information!