A LETTER FROM THE HEART
Let me start by telling you the life story of a wonderful young man. My son is a 13-year-old eight grader. He has a love for learning and reading. He is a bright young man who befriends anyone he encounters and gives you warm hugs. My son enjoys hours of building Legos and creating his own comics. When he started kindergarten, his teacher called me in and told me he was having a hard time keeping up with school. She explained that she did not think he would be ready for 1st grade. My husband and I sat down with him and helped him every day complete his homework.
We would give him encouragement in any way possible; such as, using incentives or any other methods we could think of that would motivate him. During that time, we did not think anything of it, since he was able to pull through and was promoted grades. In elementary, his teachers would tell us that he was doing well in class and that he was a hard worker. However, the real problem was right in front of us, but we could not see it since he seemed happy. My son would come home and tell us that he had trouble with kids but would brush it off and move on with his day. He started to have struggles socially, but again we could not recognize it. During 4th grade we moved him to another elementary. It took him about 3 months for him to adjust, but again he was able to pull through with his school work. He had honor roll various times and was commended on the STAAR test every year since then. But again, he had no friends but one. He would rarely be invited to parties or to someones house. It was during this time, that he started saying that every person (including adults) that he would meet were his best friends.
We would explain to him that he had to get to know someone before calling them his best friend. But he would only get frustrated; he would feel like we were keeping him from friendships. It was during Middle school, when my son started decompensating. My son was silently suffering. His behavior changed drastically. His dexterity was also declining, his movements were very clumsy. He lost his interest in sports because of that. My son would repeat things over and over under his breath. He would sometimes flap his arms or play with his fingers. Started forgetting his homework and would sometimes forget what he needed to do for the day.
Academically he was able to pull through, but socially he was hurting. We started noticing that he would stay in the same subject when talking to someone, he could not hold a conversation with someone personally or over the phone. He could not tell if someone was paying attention to him or not, he could not read facial expressions or body language. Bullies started taking advantage of this. We would tell him to defend himself, to tell his teachers, but he just couldnt. As a result, he started getting depressed. We went to the school, but the school wouldnt help. They kept saying that it was his fault for not reporting it. This lasted until first semester of 7th grade. We moved him to another Middle school. At first everything was going well, until after a month when he started getting bullied again. He couldnt report it on his own, he would shut down.
One day he called me from the restroom stall scared. I immediately went to the school. The administrator was very helpful and tackled the bullying right there and then. Even though the bullying stopped, he still had no friends and ate lunch by himself. While all of this was happening, my husband and I started looking for ways to help him. By then I had already seen the signs of Aspergers syndrome. We took him to his doctor to refer us to some one that could help. He said, he will grow out of it and did not listened to us. Insistently, I told him to refer us to someone. He gave me the number of a counselor. When I called she was so cold and non-caring, I cancelled the appointment the next day. A friend referred me to a Childrens Center. I have been on a waiting list for 2 years now. We bought books to educate ourselves and see how we could advocate for our son. I called to an Autism Clinic various times and left messages; up until this day no one has called us back.
We enrolled him in Taekwondo to help him with his concentration and movements. But, he would only get frustrated more. I kept searching online, and finally in February of this year we found Brain Development. I read about them. Did my research and we did an appointment. From the call to the appointment, the Brain Development team were very warm and caring. During the appointment my son felt at home. At the time, we were not in the financial capability to start the classes. We left very sad and disappointed; we were back to square one. Over the summer, my mother seeing my desperation, got me information from a friend on a therapist that was a specialist on Autism. When we went to the appointment, the therapist stated that she believed my son was only being defiant and needed to be taught some manners. We stormed out of there angry and even more frustrated. After a week or so of this incident, Mr. Castaneda called me and left me a message my son was admitted in the Center. My husband and I both started crying. God had answered our prayers. Within two weeks we started noticing that my sons focus had increased immensely. He was not forgetting his homework any more. He stopped flapping his arms and playing with his fingers.
The next month, I noticed that he could hold an actual conversation with exchange of ideas. He could use the phone!! I did not need to prompt him what to say anymore. He started recognizing facial expressions and more importantly, he started standing up for himself. He understands jokes and makes jokes. He now has friends and can maintain them. Before Brain Development, he wanted to give up Taekwondo, he is now a purple belt in Taekwondo, his movements are strong and precise. His Taekwondo teacher even congratulated him during the test. He moved up two belts within the time that he started doing the classes at Brain Development. When before, he had been stuck in the same belt for a year. We are truly grateful for all Brain Development has done for not only our son but our family. He is happier and more outgoing. He expresses what he needs and what he does not like. He understands the outside world better. Brain Development has given our son back his confidence and trust in himself. He just got accepted to an Early College. Because of all he has gained, we know he is ready to take on High School next year and know that he will be alright. People can get their hope back without medication and like my son, achieve his true potential.