Meet Beau, a fascinating 6 year old boy diagnosed with autism. Beau has been part of this project since the beginning (you can read last year’s story HERE) and, as I am preparing his story, reminds me of one of the great parts of this project. I have the privilege of seeing how far these kids have come over the years and that is incredibly amazing.
Beau has had a tremendous growth spurt and turned into a tall, lanky, little giant seemingly overnight. His size adds to peoples confusion, though, when he is unable to communicate or participate as they would typically expect a child of his size and age.
Beau has had a language explosion. He is no longer using an iPad as a primary means to communicate. Beau can ask for his basic wants and needs verbally, while sometimes still needing prompting, but other times spontaneously and even with new words or using words in ways which his family has never modeled or heard before.
Beau now seeks out Mommy when he hurts himself, saying "bad floor, owie on my toe” or “bad door, owie on my finger". Beau will bring his cup to his Mom/Dad and say "More water please”, “water in the cup”, or “I want more please.” His spontaneous language goes further into the use of eye contact when expressing his new thoughts and trying to copy his peers, putting on his boots or shoes, and jacket when they do and, just recently, learning to zip up his jacket all by himself. Beau has also been reading more formally and has been able to answer some basic recall and comprehension questions using an app at school.
Beau's obsession with numbers and letters is his strong suit cognitively. He LOVES numbers and can count into the thousands. Beau can also read and loves to read signs and numbers when he sees them. Using his love for letters and numbers his family, therapy team, and school were able to add words to his picture schedules, or make written first/then lists, using his love of those as motivators to help Beau learn new skills.
Beau is physically strong and thrives on positive feedback, a clap, or praise. He is a snuggler and shares his love with all who interact with him.
Beau is a little Picaso. He molds all sorts of different mediums into letters and numbers spelling out names, words, or whole sentences. He recreates logos, phone numbers, number sequences and so much more. He loves chalk and writing and has recently discovered videos on YouTube Kids that are simply numbers from 1 to a bajillion and he could watch them forever.
Beau also loves to run and chase. He has been learning to kick a ball and trying to catch a baseball to play with his siblings.
Beau still struggles to express all of his wants and needs, although his family and therapy team, and school team have worked very hard to give him all the tools he could possibly need.
Beau's most difficult times stem from not understanding a situation, the need to wait, a change in routine, not getting what he is asking for or not being able to ask for what he needs/wants. Beau will start to cry and, on occasion, those tears turn to sobs and he needs some big hugs and squeezes and as much positive support and redirection as possible. But sometimes it just takes a little time to process or let go of what was bothering him by removing him from the situation, but always with a positive touch - hug or hand hold, reminder words - wipe your eyes, or a cheerful song to redirect.
The excitement of milestones, whether great or small, and looking back at the growth that has been made are a few things that Beau’s family note as a highlight to raising a child with autism. As well as having to focus on the details and the small things. The need for extreme patience and understanding are some of the unique challenges they face. As parent’s of children with autism, they can never stop learning.
About their autism journey: “Beau is our third child and learning to be a parent of one, then two, then three is a huge learning curve, but having a child with needs that aren't described in the "How To" books can be overwhelming. On top of that Beau's older brother Berkley also has Autism and his older sister has ADHD and suspected/possible Autism. But I would not change my babies for the world. I pray for their frustrations to be eased but wouldn't change them for anything. Each and every second of being their mother has been a blessing, despite the tears, fears, and any of our disfunction. We are a family.”