School for thought: Perspective from an autism mom on her 12-year-old son’s journey into the eighth grade
My name is Maurissa T., and my son, Noah, has autism. Statistics may say he has a lot against him because of his diagnosis, but he has proven time and time again that he will beat those odds. He successfully achieved his developmental goals in all of his therapies and has overcome so many obstacles during his life – I just couldn’t be more proud of his growth as a young adult.
When I first found out that Noah has autism, I was emotional and sad. But then I realized I wasn’t sad because of his diagnosis - he is the same person he was before and after the diagnosis - I was sad because I know I can’t always be there to protect him when people view or judge him as “different.” That is a very difficult thought to swallow as a parent.
Through the years, Noah received many therapies and services to reach the point he’s at today as he prepares to enter the eighth grade. He’s been in speech therapy, social skills groups, went through applied behavior analysis therapy (ABA) and is on an Individualized Education Program (IEP). Since having therapies and having a resource teacher guide him, he has learned to express his emotions in ways that doesn’t involve meltdowns or outbursts in class. His grades have improved tremendously and he finished seventh grade with a 3.89 GPA., I can’t wait to see how he improves next year!
All of these resources helped him learn how to be social with those around him. His speech has improved and he is ready to talk to people. He tries to understand sarcasm and does his best to joke with those around him which is great because he’s understanding that humor is a way to be silly and have fun.
To all of the other parents and families touched by autism out there, I just want you to know that you are not alone. Being a parent doesn’t come with a manual and neither does having an autistic child. We may have different sets of challenges then other parents, but seeing your child make progress in certain areas or achieve milestones is the fuel that will continue to push you when times are tough. Surround yourself with a positive support group, understanding friends or an organization like Autism Speaks, and don’t be afraid to lean on them for advice. We are all in this together and we need to be there for each other when times are tough.
Autism Speaks has made such a positive impact on Noah and our family. To know that we can always turn to them for crucial resources and personal guidance is a great feeling. We all appreciate the support Autism speaks provides and genuinely feel they understand my son and accept him for exactly who he is!
To learn more about Noah’s autism journey and hear his thoughts on the upcoming school year and his plans for the future, check out this Q&A:
What is your favorite subject in school?
Are there any teachers, therapists or educators who you’d like to recognize for the guidance they’ve provided?
Mrs. Michelle from social skills group and Mrs. Douge, my resource teacher in elementary school.
Please explain why you’d like to recognize them and what they’ve done to make an impact on your life.
If it wasn’t for them, I wouldn’t know how to give people personal space. It would make people uncomfortable. I used to hum a lot. If it wasn’t for them, I would still be humming. I don’t hum or stim anymore.
How are you preparing to go back to school when summer break ends?
I start going to bed early a week before so I can get on my routine. Other than that, I don’t really prepare, I just go with it.
What are your hobbies and interests outside of the classroom?
I like to play video games.
What do you want to be/do when you grow up?
A video game streamer.
Why did you decide to share your story with the world?
To spread awareness and acceptance for people with autism like me.