Meet Berkley, a smart 11 year old boy that was diagnosed with autism when he was 3 years old. This is Berkley’s 4th year participating in Faces of Autism and it has been amazing watching him grow! You can read last year’s story HERE. Berkley is also the brother to Beau who was featured earlier this month.
In the past year Berkley has had a major growth spurt. He has jumped multiple shoe and pant sizes, and as with his huge jump in physical growth, his family has seen some really amazing personal growth as well. Berkley has been exploring with sarcasm and becoming a jokester, asking very thought provoking questions about his future, his needs, supports, and what that may look like.
Berkley is very intelligent. He is thoughtful and cares deeply about his family and others around him, although the bickering with his little sister may sometimes imply otherwise. Berkley's obsession and love of Mario and Minecraft have him exploring coding, programming, building, and more. He also is playing baseball for the 3rd year and loves it, although he may be on a team where he doesn't know anyone this year. This presents the problem of socially needing to learn everyone versus being able to focus on the game because the people are already familiar. Berkley also loves kickball and throwing the ball around outside.
Berkley struggles with expressing his thoughts and emotions fully and appropriately. When in familiar environments, with familiar people. he does very well but with new environments and new people he struggles to focus on the people/himself due to being overwhelmed by all the new. Berkley has been in OT for a long time to learn about and work on emotional regulation and ADLs (activities of daily living) and at 11 years old we are now seeing more of where he is struggling and how this many impact him as an adult. Following multi-step directions, knowing what to do when something is not routine, self-help skills, basic laundry/dishes skills, bathing, teeth brushing are all things he's worked on for years yet the tasks evolve as he grows and matures.
Some of the highlights of raising a child with autism “The excitement of milestones, whether great or small and looking back at the growth that has been made. Focus on the details, the small things, without them nothing grows.” says Berkley’s mom. And about the unique challenges “Patience. Understanding. Parental learning!”
About their autism journey so far Berkley’s mom says “Berkley was our first child and learning to be a parent is a huge learning curve, but having child with needs that aren't described in the "How To" books can be overwhelming. On top of that Berkely's little brother has Autism and his little 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.”
The advice Berkley’s mom gives if you would like to support an individual with autism and their family is “Ask questions. Meet and greet the family or individual like you would any other. Adjust to social cues and just love, understand, and accept that everyone is unique.”
If you suspect your child has autism, or they recently received a diagnosis, Berkley’s mom would like to give this advice “Seek out supports, both for the child and the family. Parent supports, an ear to listen, someone to ask questions to as well as early supports such as early intervention, therapy (OT/ST/PT), ABA, counseling and more. Early is key. Don't wait, despite the very well otherwise qualified provider who tells you too. Early detection, early diagnosis and early intervention are key - and proven successful.”