By Christine Denise
Autism Mom and Contributing Writer for As You Are, a virtual clinic dramatically increasing access to early autism diagnostic services through the use of exclusively telehealth appointments
My son’s teachers know a very different version of him than I do.
And, in a lot of ways, I envy them for that.
Their expectations for him and others like him are much higher than mine.
And, because of that, he has done much more for them than he does for us at home.
He is nonverbal, but my husband and my other children know exactly what he wants, usually just by the way he grunts or the words he tries to say that make sense to absolutely no one else but us.
His speech therapist told us that’s our love language with him. As his immediate family, we know what he wants and needs by the subtle ways he communicates with us and nobody else.
So, in his mind, why should he use his Assisted Communication Device with us at home?
It’s a blessing and a curse at the same time to have this emotional language with him that no one else understands. It helps us feel closer to him and him to us, but it also limits our level of communication with him.
At school, he uses his device to answer “yes” and “no” to people he talks to. Just to have the ability to have him answer questions like that is something our family has yet to consistently experience with him.
But I would never know he was capable of it unless I heard it from his teachers and therapists.
They know things about him that I have never seen because they happen when he is surrounded by people who simply don’t know how his special needs affect him and therefore don’t treat him differently for it.
They expect him to stay with them, and not bolt.
They expect him to sit during circle time and meal times.
They expect him to participate in therapy.
So many accomplishments he has made in his school and therapy settings have truly blown me away, and given me glimmers of hope for progress.
I’ll never forget showing up a little early to pick him up from school and peeking in the window of his classroom. And there he sat, with his legs crossed listening to the teacher read a book at the front of the class.
I couldn’t help but tear up, thinking to myself how he looked like any other little boy sitting in that class without special needs.
It was something I had never seen him do – and might not have believed had I not seen it for myself.
He does anything but sit still at home – unless it’s meal time or bedtime book time. And even on those occasions, he’s been known to make a run for it.
He’s now sitting consistently in circle time with his class without having to be chased after as he bolts for the door.
He carries a tray to the lunch counter when he’s done eating – with several prompts of course, but he still does it.
He drinks from a cup without turning it over.
Again, all skills I never would have known had his teachers not told me.
Sometimes he shows us the skills he is picking up when we try to do something for him.
I’ll never forget seeing him pull his pull-up up before pulling up his shorts after he went to the bathroom. It was the first time I had ever seen him think to pull up his pull-up first and isolate it with his hands before pulling up his pants without me doing it for him.
I called his teacher to tell her the good news. She said he had been doing that for months.
Our family gets so used to doing everything for him because we subconsciously have such low expectations for him that it is really important to turn to others who know him.
His teachers and therapists work with kids just like him all the time, and that’s why they know much better than we do what to expect from him and how to accomplish it.
Louie is the only kiddo like him that we know – and thanks to his teachers and therapists – we sometimes get to know the other version of him, too.
Do you have questions about your child’s development? The team at As You Are provides useful autism screening and diagnostic evaluations for kids 16 months to 10 years old via telehealth appointments.
Disclaimer: I am not a medical professional. This is a sponsored blog post, but all opinions are my own.