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Friday, August 8, 2014

Autism Does Not Mean Stupid

My son Thomas has autism.

When Thomas was 3 1/2 years old he was diagnosed with "high functioning" classic autism.  I wanted to cry, I wanted to scream, and I wanted to hold my baby tight and yell at the world that "He's still MY Little!"

Thomas was placed in a special pre-school class and received Speech Therapy for receptive and expressive language.  We found he had a number of sensory difficulties, and was especially photo-sensitive.  At one point when we lived in Virginia, he was a Project LifeSaver kid through the sheriff's department because of his wanderings.

Through everything, if anyone asked me what I liked best about Thomas, I would say "his heart".  There is something about the boy that makes your heart melt.  He loves everyone.  And, even if he can't necessarily stand to be hugged, you know he loves people.

But, through it all, Thomas was never not intellectually there.  He may vacate out into an absence seizure, or twirl a little and click his tongue.  He may emotionally seem a little closer to a child half his age, but he has always been so very smart.  At school, he moved from having an Individual Educational Plan (IEP) to having nothing while I fought to get him a 504 plan.  He received his 504 plan last year.  He needs extra time on tests, and has trouble with his ability to write legibly.  His short term memory can be a bit faulty, and he is very consistent about not remembering that he has homework too.  After all, the teacher didn't say "Thomas, you need to do pages 10, 11 and 12 tonight", she just said "Do pages 10, 11 and 12" not who was supposed to do them.

Something happened today.

Today, Grandma took him to school to meet his new teacher and find out where his classroom is.  Turns out, that the Thomman is not in a normal class this year.  He will not be with all the other "normal" mainstream kids this year studying along at what he consider's an easy pace.

No, Thomas has been moved to the 5th grade gifted class!

His most recent teacher recognized that this kid is smart! Not just run of the mill smart, but really very intelligent!  It doesn't matter if he does click his tongue in class, or needs extra time to write his work because it can be physically painful.  It doesn't matter that he has to wear tinted glasses to keep the room in shadows or that he needs his teacher to sign off that he actually has homework.

I am so proud of my son Thomas!

We'd have a special dinner for him tonight ... I was thinking ice cream and cake, but I know that would upset him and he'd say we skipped dinner.  So, looks like Mac-n-Cheese followed by a healthy serving of ice cream!