Meet Nathan, a 16 year old with a big heart that was diagnosed with autism at 3 years old. Nathan participated in the project last year, you can read more information HERE.
Nathan is in his 2nd year of high school and for the first time, feels very comfortable and is enjoying his school year. Teachers taking the time to understand and get to know Nathan has made a world of difference. He has a fantastic team and when they let him know they get him: he shows them what he can do.
Nathan is a sweet and sensitive kid. He cares deeply about people and the worlds injustices. He has a very giving heart. He has an excellent memory for almost everything he cares a lot about. His biggest struggles are with socializing and eating. Nathan is very much a homebody. He prefers to stay home watching WWE wrestling, or gaming, especially Mario and Sonic games. The foods he eats are very limited. He enjoys French fries from McDonald's, Burger King, and Red Lobster. No other restaurants or foods while going out to eat. He has been working on getting larger menu in food therapy for quite a while.
Nathan loves the WWE, Mario and Sonic, reading, television, and helping his mom. He loves to smile and laugh. Going to movies or shopping for a new game is also fun especially his favorite store Rock 30 games. His family has learned that Nathan loves the old English Classics.
Some highlights and struggles involved with raising a child with autism, from Nathan’s mom: “Nathan has taught me so many things. He has taught me to slow down and really look at things. He loves detail and takes it all in very quickly. I have learned to look closer and slowly at more things. Life is so complicated and yet so simple. He sees it all. Differences can and should be celebrated. He has a very good heart full of innocence and love. If only the world could be full of love like he has it would be a better place. Due to the need he has to be on a schedule of routine, it is very hard to do some of the simplest or spontaneous things. Sadness, meltdowns, and anxiety happen when we throw him off schedule. This doesn’t always happen, but when we have a choice, we usually chose to keep on normal schedules.
Living with family with autism can be challenging at times. It can be frustrating, frightening, sad, overwhelming and exhausting. However, I would not change anything about it. It is also full of joy, happiness, laughter, humor, hope and above all love.
If you would want to help and support a family or individual with autism “Learn to look and take delight in the small things, not just the big things. Patience is important. Do not tell someone “their behaviors are just temper tantrums and your kid has them too. You need to use harsh punishments.”
Meltdowns are different. All people are different. All people with autism just want the same as everybody else. Love and acceptance.”
If your child has been recently diagnosed, or you suspect they may have autism, the advice Nathan’s mom would like to give is: “Delight in the small things.details and simplicity are important. Ask for help. The autism community we have here is fantastic and everybody needs a great support system sometimes. It is okay to not be perfect. It is okay to grieve at some points. There are others going through these things with you and beside you that you can turn too. Family Voices of North Dakota is my families Godsend! We have met incredible families on our journey.”
If you have any questions about autism or how to help support families with autism, please feel free to reach out or comment and I will do my best to help you.