I know April is Autism Awareness month, but I truly believe we should be aware of autism all year, in a positive and uplifting way. So this post I give you today will help everyone do just that. It includes a very personal video that I’m so happy to share with all of you.
You can go back and read any of the writings about my son, Kyle, in the archives of this blog. Just look over to the side or below for a menu of blog topics and click on AUTISM. Catch up a bit, if you haven’t already done so, that would be helpful. Even if you just read THIS ONE. You can also find that link near the autism ribbon under the archives list. It gives a good overview of our story.
Fast forward to today. Kyle, at age 28, is working at nonPareil Institute. The movie, Programming Hope, a documentary film about nP, finally premiered back in February 2015. nonPareil has also expanded and opened a second location in Houston! It’s an exciting time. They still need lots of support to make even more future growth possible, but they are working hard on all this. Please share this this story with everyone…we really need the word out there so everyone can be aware of autism in a future tense. It’s a business story as much as it’s an autism story. Anyone can benefit from hearing what is being done now to help adults on the spectrum and what’s on the horizon. It gets ideas and conversations started. It gets ideas and actions started, too.
A little before the nP Houston location opened, I had the pleasure of hearing first hand, from several folks who were at their “open house” meeting, about my son’s “speech” which he made during that event. You see, he was asked to attend with Dan Selec and Gary Moore, the founders of nP…and that alone, was pretty exciting!
What many may not realize, was that Kyle actually was pretty nervous in the days leading up to traveling down there. He was going all by himself on a plane, since Dan and Gary were already down there attending an earlier event the night before. To Kyle, THIS trip was a big deal! He had flown before, but never alone. Having to navigate getting to and from places for the first time is always a topic of stress…add to that flying, and he just needed some reassurance. We discussed this by phone before he left. That’s typically how our relationship flows now that he’s an adult. He simply needs a little extra support and guidance, and we are his sounding board to help him make wise decisions…and of course, learn from his mistakes, which still can crop up.
After the Houston event was over I heard on Facebook about how well things went…he even posted wonderful pictures and updates during his short trip. Eventually, within a day or so, there were pictures posted on nonPareil – Houston’s Facebook page…and I was thrilled to learn that the documentary folks were down there, too, getting some final footage for the film…and luckily, Kyle’s speech was captured!
This makes us SO happy. He’s done something like this before, given a wonderful, moving testimony and we missed almost all of it. It was the evening of the final marching band competition his senior year of high school. Both my husband and I were busy doing band parent stuff, and I walked into the band hall at the tail end, heard his closing words, only to see kids and parents in tears and then applause. My husband missed it completely. Unfortunately, there was no good recording of it by anyone. We heard so much about it, though. We knew then that Kyle really had learned a sense of gratitude and that he valued his friends…and that he felt safe in band…and he really was worried about his future. It was scary to think he was going to leave his comfort behind after graduation, but we remained optimistic.
As expected, college was not the right fit for him, nor was working in food service. Neither made him happy or feel successful. Kyle learned to speak his emotions very well thanks to all the counseling and speech therapy we did with him through the years . He was taught to use his words once he gained a sufficient amount of them in his repertoire . Outbursts were not appropriate, not tolerated and we taught him other ways to let go of what he was feeling.
Years later, what you see here is the pay off. I never dreamed it would happen like this in a million years. Kids grow up. They learn what they are taught, over and over and over again. This is proof.
I decided to share this new video, which includes my son’s speech at that open house in Houston, in the hope that it helps those parents that are struggling right now. Our journey was long…and I cried a lot…and we were very scared…but we just kept doing the best we knew how to do. I simply can’t thank both Dan and Gary enough for helping to create this moment, now…and for believing in my son…and a big thank you to Jack Creamer, the director of Programming Hope, for sharing that meaningful film clip and the other pictures with me.
I want all of you reading this to take a moment and please watch…and share it with anyone who might need to hope and inspiration…
Autism Awareness is more than statistics. Be aware of what is possible. Know that a great future can and will happen. Children grow up and there are people out there right now working very hard to make sure training programs and jobs will be available to individuals on the autism spectrum. Stay aware and keep learning about it…because time will pass in the blink of an eye!
Years ago, we had to forget our fear and just take it one day at a time. It ends up that it’s been a wild ride, but a great lesson to share…life will take you places that you can’t even realize. You’ll meet people through the years that will help connect the dots. So don’t sweat it so much right now while the kids are little…just enjoy them…smile more often…lighten up! Teach them to be kind..teach them love. Teach them right from wrong as best as you can.
Seven years ago, during a hot Texas summer just like this one, our son was the first student in a program we knew nothing about…but we took a leap of faith. Meeting someone randomly led this to happen…it wasn’t planned and we were not looking for it. See? You just never know!
My Message To You
Keep your focus on the love…the consistency…and laugh…don’t forget to laugh. I think I mentioned that twice. It’s worth repeating. Build your village of support…the right people are all out there, walking around each day…you’ll know when you meet them…and the village grows as your child grows up, with each new experience. SO, make sure your children have a have a TON of experiences…both good and bad, because there’s something to be taken away and learned from each of them along the way.
Things have a way of falling into place…worry and fear just make the journey more difficult, so surrender to faith.