This guest post is from Tina, a very proud mother of her son Jacob who has autism.
I realized there was something special about Jacob very early on. When he was about 13 months old, although he was not yet speaking, Jacob had memorized the entire alphabet. I could say any letter and he would point to it in a book. By two years old he could do the same with all 50 states and 7 continents. At this time he was also diagnosed with speech delay and a feeding disorder.
He was not speaking, only grunting, and could not tolerate textures of any sort. He had severe GERD and couldn't swallow anything but finely pureed baby food. He was also very energetic. He was constantly running, often in circles. We couldn't take him shopping or to restaurants because he would constantly take off on us! He also insisted on following the same routines everyday and couldn't tolerate loud noises such as toilets or babies crying.
As he got older his behavior grew even more challenging but I also became even more aware of Jacobs capabilities. One day, shortly after his fourth birthday I heard the song playing from our family piano that my husband was playing the night before...but my husband was at work. I went to look to see who it was and to my surprise it was Jacob! I couldn't believe my eyes! It took us a while but we finally found a piano teacher that would take a 4 year old. His teacher soon became aware of his gift as he was flying through books learning 2-3 songs per week. It was so amazing to watch him. My son whom could never sit still could focus so intently on learning his songs on the piano. It seemed to be an outlet for him, helping him to express his feelings and emotions.
A few months after Jacob began playing piano my husband convinced me to have him evaluated. On December 19, 2011 Jacob was diagnosed with autism. We were completely devastated. For some time after his diagnosis I looked at Jacob differently. Now he wasn't just Jacob, he was Jacob with autism. I almost thought of him as being frail or disabled. I tiptoed around him not wanting to upset or disturb him. I also became very depressed thinking about what he would do when we, his parents, weren't here to take care of him. In my mind the bright future that I had once envisioned for my little boy had been snatched away by autism.
One day sitting watching him play piano I finally realized something. Nothing about Jacob had changed. He was still the same little boy that I knew before his autism diagnosis. Autism did not define him, yet it was only one small part him. This was a huge turning point for me because I decided that instead of focusing on Jacob's disability I should instead begin concentrating on his unlimited capabilities!
Couldn’t be prouder of him!