By Diane Ponist
All the talk in the media about autism really hits home for me. Of course I understand why people want to prevent it and research its cause(s), but while most people talk about the negatives, we are a family that focuses on the positives.
Our son “DeAndre”, who was adopted through the foster system, is on the spectrum. This past week was his 8th birthday, plus his IEP at school. We had a great week, with his excitement about becoming a year older, and our eagerness to see his progress over the past year. His IEP went great, just as it had been over the past few years. Each year he meets new goals.
For his birthday, we did things a little differently. We just planned a family fun day instead of the usual kiddie party. In the past couple of years, the overstimulation of a party caused DeAndre to come down with a fever, so we took a rest from that. And it worked out very well for him. He also had a pizza party at school with his class, which was less involved and much easier for him.
Being a parent of an autistic child is challenging, I am not saying otherwise. But we knew before fostering him that he had autism. We were told in advance that he may never talk, that he might live with us forever. And knowing all this, we went ahead anyway, jumping right in. I am pleased to report that currently he is talking and doing things we were originally warned might not be a possibility for him.
Sure, specific challenges present themselves at times. We have to be especially mindful of his needs in public, so we can avoid meltdowns. But often, at home, he is self-kept, preferring to read quietly. His behavior can resemble a toddler’s at times, but he also has the intelligence of a 20+ year old. He is incredibly smart with a memory that astounds. He is constantly amazing us.
My point is, in our house our son is not disabled or challenged. He does not have a mental disease, which people often say about the autistic. Here, at home, he is characterized as having super hero powers!
DeAndre is an autistic, biracial, adopted boy from the foster system with two mommies. Could he be any more diverse? He is very proud of who he is, regardless of what others may think about him. His frequent and easy smiles will leave an impression on you forever.
I don’t want to forget another strength: his inability to tell a lie. Love is all this boy knows. He would not be who he is if he wasn’t autistic; I would never change a thing about him. For St. Patrick’s Day in school, his inclusion class went around the room stating out loud the things they feel lucky to have. DeAndre told his entire class he is lucky to have a mom and a mommy.
He is perfect just the way he is.