INTRODUCTION TO A LUCKY BOY
Our son's name is Thomas and he is a lucky boy. He was due to be born on July 4th 1998 but instead was born 10 1/2 weeks early on April 23rd, 1998 (just missing you know who's birthday). He only weighed 2 lbs, 14 oz. Yes he did have to spend a few (eight) weeks confined to a NICU (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit) but some would consider that a small price to pay not to be born on July 4th!
Thomas is also lucky in the fact that his dad (me) wanted give him the middle name "Jefferson" after my brother Jeff but my wife refused. She said that she would never saddle her child the name of a President! Personally I don't see what's wrong with being born on July 4th and or being called Thomas Jefferson! After all Thomas Jefferson is supposed to be one of his ancestors! Thomas is the youngest of seven kids (just how lucky can you get?). All four of his brothers and his two sisters are from his mother's previous marriage so you can understand how they would be very protective of him. Actually you would think he walked on water from the amount of love and support they shower on him, no lie!
Thomas of course had a few developmental delays from being born premature but we expected that and knew that he would overcome those with time. But Thomas is a lucky boy because at about two years old he we was diagnosed with Autism or Autism Spectrum Disorder. Now some people might say that being classified as autistic would be an unlucky thing but he didn't know about it and being autistic, care. I on the other hand.....!@#$.....well this is about Thomas. So how is being classified as autistic lucky? Because it meant that he qualified for the maximum amount of services that we could fit into his day. With these services Thomas' chances of getting back what autism took away were greatly improved.
Thomas is the most loving and sensitive child I have ever met (no bias on my part). All of his teachers and therapists as well as his bus drivers and any other adults that get to know him, seem to love him as much as I do! In fact, on many occasions adults that have worked with him in the past have come around so see how he is doing and to spend time with him! He gets calls and emails almost every day and one past therapist volunteered to keep him at her house during the day last summer while I worked from home!
Thomas likes cartoons, super heroes, roughhousing with his brothers (just like most kids) but he really loves reading, writing, drawing, music (both listening, singing and playing), photography and acting. In fact, he was the only person in his kindergarten class to get a speaking part in his school's yearly play. He takes swimming lessons, jumps on our trampoline and likes to "race" his big brother Spencer who is eight. We are considering guitar lessons and karate classes as soon as he is ready. He really, really, likes to get new toys. So as a positive reinforce he receives points for good behaviors and loses points for bad choices. This allows his to earn points for money so he can buy his own toys. As you can see we try very hard to keep him challenged.
Yes, Thomas (a lucky boy) has made incredible progress. He received all of the services he needed and went from grunts and a few signs to reading on a second grade level by the age of five. Thomas is now in the first grade and doing fantastic. Yes, he still has a few obstacles to overcome, mostly with his social skills and expressive language development. Yes he still gets some services, but all things considered he has come a very long way!
Was it easy? No. Is Thomas cured? No. Will he be OK? YES. Why, because his mom and I were willing to do whatever it took, every day, to make sure that nothing came between Thomas and his future or his independence and happiness. But we and he couldn't have done it without all of the kind and caring people who have worked with and for Thomas in the last six years.
Here and Now and Forever in the future we would like to thank those people. Special thanks to all of his early intervention therapists, all of the members of the Committee on Special Education, all of the members of the School Board, all the wonderful folks at Stepping Stones Learning Center, all of his ABA teams, all of his teachers, all of the members of "Team Thomas" as I like to call them and all of the other wonderful people in his life from his bus drivers to his School Principle. But most of all we want to thank the two wonderful 1-1 aids that have worked with Thomas over the years.
But there is one person who made all the difference in Thomas' life and that person was his early intervention service coordinator! If she allows me to put her name here I will. She was and still is simply the most knowledgeable, helpful, caring and overall wonderful person we know! Without her Thomas would never have come this far!
We still have many obstacles to face but we intend to face them without fear. We are steadfast in our resolve to continue what we have started, to provide our son with all of the tools he needs to achieve his maximum potential and we will continue to do whatever it takes to accomplish this goal.
We refuse to let anything or anybody consume his future or stand in the way of his success. We are here today and will always be here, ready to do whatever it takes to insure Thomas' future. A future of happiness, health, independence and success. Because, if we aren't willing to do what it takes today, right now, ultimately Thomas will have to pay the price, a price will have to be paid, by him, for the rest of his life.
To help him reach his maximum potential, whatever that may be, we believe that it is essential that Thomas receive the same opportunities to succeed as every other child. For this reason we, his family, teachers, therapists, and friends are committed to working together to make the "best use" of every minute of Thomas' time. Our goals are to keep him challenged and engaged, to inspire him to take chances, to give him the courage to explore the world outside his comfort zone, to encourage his creativity and original thinking, to make him believe in his self and understand that he can do anything he really wants to do and be anything he really wants to be, that his future is unlimited.
We remind ourselves every day that today is the most important day of Thomas' life. Because the past is over and can not be changed but his future is unlimited and the things we do today are the only things that can affect that future. Today sets the stage for his future and Thomas will live with the results of what we do today and the decisions we make for the rest of his life.
If you are reading this it I hope it means that you care about our all our children so I'm going to leave you with one thought: If we fail to give all of our children, especially those with a disability, all of the tools they need to become a happy, healthy, productive member of society then we as a society will have to pay later, but ultimately the highest price will have to be paid by our children, and that price will have to be paid for the rest of their lives.
Mom & Dad
This site is for the private use of Thomas' family, teachers, therapists and friends as well as anyone
who is interested in Autism, it's treatments or it's effects on the family of and the individuals concerned.