Meet Alexander, an incredible 6 year old boy that was diagnosed with autism when he was 4 years old. During this session he had a great time making me chase him around the gift shop at the Heritage Center! Alexander participated in Faces of Autism last year, you can read his story HERE.
Alexander is now in Kindergarten. He enjoys the teaching staff and all of the wonderful teacher aides at his school. He spends a good portion of his day interacting with his peers. Since starting school, Alexander now enjoys long conversations, jokes, and reading. Alexander has made significant gains in his development including reading, math, and in communication with others. His family is extremely proud of the progress he continues to make everyday.
Alexander is detail oriented. He has a good eye for creating things from Legos. He can create towers, homes, and trucks from just about any set. His attention to fine details allow him to organize his toys, clothes, and daily activities very well. Alexander prefers to help others with things and can be found showing his younger sister how to accomplish a new task. Alexander also knows how to operate a lot of computer systems from Dell, Apple, Android, NABI Gaming, and utilizing applications for their full potential on his SMART TV. He can remember numeric passwords to unlock systems and can navigate each system to select things that are age appropriate and entertaining for him. One of the things Alexander does best is joke and laugh. He likes to tease others and can usually be found in an upbeat mood.
Alexander struggles with accepting things he does not like, very much like any other person. It takes him some extra time to adjust to new things.
Alexander loves to watch YouTube Kids, play board games, and build with Legos. He enjoys searching for and collecting classic trains. Alexander reads an hour a day on his tablet, likes to explore new places, travel, and go to professional football games as well as the Nickelodeon theme park, Crayola Factory, and the Sea Life Aquarium. He loves biking, swimming, visiting his grandparents, talking on the phone, and playing piano.
Some of the highlights of raising a child with autism that Alexander’s parent’s notice include attentiveness, affection, increased awareness of your surroundings, attention to detail, attention to personalities of people around you, understanding of those who might need support, learning new things together, being more tolerant of others to help them understand, being better at organization and planning.
Alexander’s mom says “The best part of my child is that he helps me see the world from his perspective. When this happens i know that there are some things that I can change to also improve myself and my communication as well. Learning how to keep an open minded about anything has been the biggest highlight when it comes to loving any child, as children with autism are wired slightly differently, but are still wonderful human beings like any other child. It is beautiful and has been life changing in a positive way.”
Some unique challenges they experience: “Having to listen carefully to exactly what it is your child is trying to express. Expression is difficult for us, but we do the best we can to find teachable skills to overcome that challenge. I always make sure that I am fully understanding my child as I do not want him to feel misunderstood.”
If you want to support an individual with autism and their family, Alexander’s parents give this advice “Keeping an open mind is key. Please speak with your children, family members, and people who may need additional education about children on the spectrum. Not every child who is diagnosed autistic will function the same as the next. Also please understand that children who are autistic are born that way, it is not due to the lack of parental education. There is no explanation at this point for why children are autistic. Please do not shame parents by making assumptions that are hurtful to their child and family. Also if there are children who are autistic in your care please remember that even though they prefer to be alone at times, we should not leave them alone but instead try to include them in the most appropriate way that is comforting for them.”
If you suspect your child may have autism, Alexander’s parent’s have this to say “Do not wait and do not ask someone who is not a medical professional for advice. The earlier the care the better. Do not worry about labels. The best thing you can do is get support for your loved one.”