Meet Braden, a caring 17 year old young man diagnosed with autism when he was around 6 years old. Braden wanted to do his session with his snowblower, something he spent a lot of time with over this past winter! This is his third year in Faces of Autism, and it has been awesome watching him grow. You can read last year’s story HERE.
In the past year Braden has gotten much more helpful. Over the winter he snowblowed for many people in his neighborhood and he is looking forward to mowing season to mow many neighborhood lawns.
Braden is very caring. He has a big heart and wants to help all the time, even though there may be times it is not needed or wanted. He isn’t afraid to ask for help from a neighbor or friend. Braden is very interested in cars, trucks and tractors. Braden attends as many car shows in the local area as he possibly can, including Scotty's Classic Car night every Wednesday during the summer. This is something he really looks forward to. Braden also loves playing War and North Dakota-Opoly. This past year Braden was in the Inclusive Sports program for Flag Football and Bowling. He loves that he can do sports with friends. He also participates in the Peer-to-peer program and really enjoys that so he can spend additional time with friends.
Braden struggles with understanding authority as well as understanding that there are consequences to some of his actions. He struggles with change in routine. He has an especially difficult time when he's lacking sleep.
Some of the unique highlights as well as challenges of raising a child with autism, according to Braden’s mom: “Every day is a challenge. Every day is also rewarding in ways. Having a child with autism has changed our outlook on many things as a family. We have to take our time to do some things, more than the norm. We have to try to stay on a strict routine as much as possible. The slightest change in routine is sometimes huge. Sensory issues are something I'd never have to even think about. The younger sibling often has to be more like an older sibling and a caregiver.”
One of the ways to help support an individual on the spectrum and their families is to not be judgmental. Try to have an open mind and be understanding. There are no two autistic people alike.
The advice Braden’s mom gives for those that suspect their child may have autism or was recently diagnosed is “Don't be afraid to ask questions. Reach out to other parents, because they understand. Try to keep a routine as much as possible. Don't treat that child as different, include them in everything.”
Braden’s mom, along with 2 other parents, have started up a group on Facebook called BisMan Parents/Caregivers Of Kids With Aggression Issues. This group was started in part because of the challenges Braden has brought about, as he gets really aggressive when he's frustrated, lacking sleep and/or his routine is changed. They have a mission to let parents know that they are not alone. If you are interested in joining, that group can be found HERE.