New school year brings new opportunities for 13-year-old, Jaedan H.

Jaedan H.

My name is Jaedan H., and this is my autism story. I am 13 years old and I am going to the eighth grade in September. My favorite subject in school is English. I think being able to have good grammar is very important and I like to learn the meanings of big words.  

I want to give credit to one of my teachers, Mrs. Almeida. She was my teacher for two years in elementary school. The reason I want to recognize her is because she was very good with keeping me on track with my work. She was a very nice person and also funny and upbeat.  

I’m prepared to go back to school after the summer ends. I know that I have to focus more this year and there will be more work required of me at the next level. I’m very excited to get back in the school building after being at home doing remote learning. To get myself prepared, I am setting my alarm clock earlier in the morning to get used to waking up for school. That’s my main training as school gets closer.  

My interests outside of the classroom are online gaming and searching online for general information. I like looking up stuff that can help me in the future because I don’t forget information. I’d like to become an anesthesiologist when I get older and I would like to do cyber security too, so I can put my computer skills to good use.  

Learn more about Jaedan through the words of his mom, Frances: 

Jaedan is a brilliant, funny teenager with autism. He was diagnosed in 2010 at the age of three. 

Jaedan H.

When Jaedan first went to school, he had very little communication which often led to meltdowns, tantrums and overall bad days. I was told by two daycares that Jaedan wouldn’t be a good placement due to his self-injurious behavior onto himself and others. As a young mom at 22, I had no idea how to deal with all of this, let alone understand a new autism diagnosis. It was such a foreign concept to me. And why did Jaedan have it? These were questions that I needed answers to, and I found them at Autism Speaks. I used the website a lot, especially when it came to helping me navigate resources for Jaedan, such as applying for SSI and finding non-profit organizations to helped me with funds for his many needs.  

Our lives changed when Jaedan was finally accepted into a daycare. They helped us get services through early intervention in our district, which allowed us to find a behavior therapist and a speech therapist. Jaedan flourished with their help!  Within a year, he was talking nonstop! Today, Jaedan is enrolled in a LINKS program in the public school system here in Springfield, Massachusetts. The LINKS program pairs students with autism and other disabilities with general education peers to provide a constant stream of support.  He’s an excellent student, averaging top scores in district and city-wide exams.  

If I have any advice to offer other parents, it would be to appreciate it ALL. The breakdowns, the battles, the tears… it’s all worth it. I used to feel like I was failing Jaedan through his tough moments. I’d doubt myself because I didn’t have all the answers to his behaviors and his autism. Yet, here we are today and he’s doing amazing things. It’s been a wonderful journey with many rewarding moments and yes, some difficult ones. I wouldn’t have it any other way.  

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