Ian was a quiet baby, gazing at the world around him with his shining green eyes, making his parents smile constantly. As he got older, they became concerned when he didn’t cry to communicate his needs and would not look them in the eye. By the time he was three years old, the diagnoses was clear, Ian had autism.
To his parents, who had never encountered a person with autism close up, this was a life sentence. They were in denial.
“I remember that we would beg Ian to look us in the eye and talk to us,” said his mother, “I cried and shouted and shook him trying to get a reaction out of him. He simply continued lining up sticks on the floor, making a long path across the living room.”
Ian’s mother would ask him if he was making train tracks, but he simply hummed tunelessly and continued lining up the sticks. Frustration kicked in and his mother messed up the line of sticks. The tantrum that followed was horrifying. Ian screamed and shouted and threw anything within reach. He banged his head on the wall and just continued screaming.
By the time Ian was seven years old, his parents realized that they needed to get help, they had no idea how to take care of their son. The desperate parents turned to the local Jewish community asking if there were any programs for children with special needs. They were referred to LifeChanger FSU who immediately jumped into gear.
“The coordinator came to visit us and saw Ian lining up sticks on the floor. She sat down next to him and took a few sticks and added them to the line. Ian paused, he didn’t look at her, but he stopped and acknowledged her presence,” shared the mother tearfully. “At the time, Ian had been acting as if we did not exist, we could not remember the last time he showed any signs of communication.”
The coordinator set up an appointment for Ian at the Specialized Center for Children with Developmental Disabilities ‘LADO’. They did a thorough assessment on Ian and developed and IEP [Individualised Educational Program] for him.
Thus began the slow process of socializing Ian and teaching him how to function in society. He began attending speech therapy and social skills classes. Ian showed a keen interest in math and was strongly encouraged to pursue his passion through chanting the times tables and solving math problems. He began to enjoy reading and progressed quickly from simple preschool level books to chapter books.
Ian, who still has a hard time making eye contact, has learned to use simple language to express his needs.
Ian will always have autism, but it is no longer a life sentence. Autism is what makes Ian unique. His mind works in a different way then the mind of a typically functioning child, but different is not bad. Now that his parents understand him better and he has learned to understand them, they have built a strong bond based on appreciation and acceptance.
“I would not change Ian in any way,” said his mother, “I have learned to love who he is and connect to him on his unique level. I have LifeChanger FSU and LADO to thank for giving us this gift. Thank you for guiding us towards a happy, wholesome life together with our very special boy.”