The article we published in April’s ALT has been great for those who struggle to help other be more aware of what to look for and how to talk to your family about people who are on the spectrum. We have had so many positive comments that it helps us to know what we are doing is helping others, and that’s what we strive so hard to do. We wanted to share an email that the Binnings received. With the writer’s permission, we are giving you the opportunity to enjoy her story…
Don and Stacey:
This is one of the most amazing articles I have seen or read about people living and coping with the diagnosis of Autism. I applaud you both for your honesty and bravery in sharing your story. I know your life will be challenging but oh so rewarding because of Thomas and I also know how lucky he is to have you as his parents. I have spent my life working with so many children who were diagnosed with Autism and each of them have been such a joy and bring such wonderful memories as I witnessed their journey towards adulthood. The one thing I know for sure is that each child has been their own person, just as people who are not diagnosed with the disorder are different in their own ways.
I have to share a a story with you about one particular student I had that entered our school when he was in the 3rd grade. His social skills were non-existent. For instance, he could not walk besides anyone. He had to walk behind whomever he was with, student or teacher. He could not participate in any games played by his peers. He would turn his back to speak to anyone, if he spoke at all. Over the course of two years I figured out he had a great mind for numbers. This was by accident because I overheard him whispering answers to problems given to other children. Once I realized this skill I used numbers to teach him to improve his social skills. I measure how far back from others he walked and put a chart up with goals to decrease the distance over time. Eventually, I was able to get him to walk besides someone(mind you he never spoke or looked at the person but he was next to them at least). After this I used math to encourage spoken words with the other person he was walking next to. Over the course of two years he was able to speak to peers while looking at them, participate in games and slowly produce great quality work in the classroom. My biggest joy came after he left elementary and moved on to Jr High. One day I was working the book fair at our elementary during a Parent night, and I felt a tap on my shoulder. I turned around and saw the most handsome young man smiling from ear to ear. He put his hand out, asked if he could shake my hand, and said ” Hi, Mrs. Gullo, do you remember me?” We spoke for about 15 minutes about his life in Jr High and how well he was doing in ALL advanced classes and how excited he was to be in band . His mother stood off to the side watching him as this happened. After he walked off to mingle with others, his mother came up to me, and with tears in her eyes, told me she never thought she would see the day that her son would be so happy. She gave me a hug and said Thank you for being so patient with him and teaching how to connect with other. I went home that night and thanked God for placing him in my life. Its a moment I will always cherish. You too will have moments like this that bring you joy you never realized you could have and certainly is hard to explain to another person who doesn’t see the struggles. Again, this was an amazing article.