Monday, October 1, 2007

Meet Andrew

As the blog intro says, I have two children, one of whom is special needs. That child is my older son, Andrew.

From the beginning, everything seemed fine. He progressed along, hitting every milestone in the book for the first 18 months.

Then something seemed to go wrong. Andrew stopped meeting the targets we saw in all of he books.

The first thing we always heard was “kids just develop differently.” People were well-meaning and we wanted to believe it. But hearing everyone’s anecdote about “having a friend whose cousin’s kid didn’t talk until age three, and ‘now, we can’t get him to shut up’ ” did only one thing, get on our nerves.

We started taking him to specialists. We were lucky that Andrew’s PCP shared our concerns for Andrew and was willing to make recommendations to various specialists. Finally, after a two-year odyssey of attempting various therapies, we took him for an evaluation at the local children’s hospital. It was early February, about three months shy of Andrew’s 4th birthday, and the team at the hospital told confirmed what we suspected, Andrew is autistic. He had severe delays in speech, language, and social skills.

That day was seven-and-a-half years ago. In that time, we have been to more therapy sessions than we can count: speech therapy, behavioral therapy, occupational therapy, natural science-type therapy. He still sees specialists and gets therapy now. I won’t bore anyone with the details. If people ask, then I will gladly go through it. However, I’d like to focus on the now.

What is now? Well, Andrew is in 4th grade. We held him back a year as he was young, compared to his classmates. Also, he missed nearly a month of school in our move cross-country, so holding him back made sense. He is mainstreamed in a regular class, but is pulled for language services every day. We work with him at home, to make sure he stays up on his studies.

Outside of school, he loves sports, particularly team-type sports. He dreams of being the next Andruw Jones, but practices at being the next John Smoltz. His favorite activity is to have me play catcher while he tries to throw a strike across our makeshift home plate. Unfortunately, he’s at the age where they don’t have to play all of the kids any more and he’s too slow to keep pace with the game. Still, that hasn’t changed his dreams.

In other words, he’s a normal boy…and I’m very proud of him.

Next: Meet Christopher.

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