The Faces of Autism: Preston

Meet Preston, a loving 5 year old boy that was diagnosed with autism when he was 20 months old. This is Preston’s third year participating in Faces of Autism and I am so amazed at the progress he has made over the years. Click HERE to read last year’s story on Preston.

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In the past year Preston has started using his iPad for communication and he has been successful with it. Preston will be getting a service dog in the very near future, his parent’s are very excited to see how this helps him. Preston’s parents have a group on Facebook where they share information about him, autism, and they unique lifestyle families of different need children have. You can check it out here and join if you would like to follow Preston’s Journey.

Preston is very loving and kind. He is stubborn, but sometimes it is a good thing. Preston is persistent and his memory is fantastic. He remembers routes and places, even if they have only been there once. Preston loves to be outside. He loves running, climbing, jumping, and swinging. He enjoys the pool, the playground and sandboxes. He likes playing in his indoor ball pit and watching movies. Preston also likes to watch videos on YouTube and loves playing tag with his little brother.

Preston struggles with communication and is nonverbal. With communication technology such as the Proloquo app on the iPad, it has improved and will get better as he becomes more proficient at using it. Preston has a hard time being patient and with change.

From his parent’s, some of the highlights of raising a child with autism “Preston has taught us so many things; patience is a big one. He’s taught us that words are not the only way to communicate. He’s shown us that he can learn and grow without words. He’s so kind and loving. He greets us every morning with a hug and kiss. He loves his brother and we know that through body language. He kisses his brother countless times during the day. He hugs him and plays tag. He likes to look directly into his brothers eyes and just smile. He is an incredible little boy and he has overcome hurdles we as his parents could have never imagined.”

Some of the unique challenges Preston’s parents experience “Changes in routine causes significant behaviors with Preston. Behaviors in general are challenging. We’ve recently had an increase in behaviors and we are still working through the possibilities of why. When I say behaviors, in Preston’s case, it’s head banging, slapping, pinching, scratching, and biting. This is to himself and to adults, never peers, but sometimes he slaps his brother.  Another unique thing is learning to communicate differently. Preston doesn’t speak with words, but gestures and pictures and his iPad have shown us that he will be just fine if he never has words. He has figured out how to get his point across and it just took us a little longer to get there too.”

If you want to support an individual with autism and their family, Preston’s parents advise you to be understanding and open. Ask questions, it’s the only way to know how to interact or to learn. You don’t have to be sorry, just be present. Please don’t be afraid of autism or autistic children. There is a learning curve to understanding and communication, but if you’re willing to take the time to listen and learn, that speaks volumes.

The words of encouragement if your child recently received an autism diagnosis “I know it’s hard. I know those words are deafening and make your heart hurt. It’s not over. You’re going on an adventure that won’t always be bad. You will grow so much. Your child will grow and learn, just differently. Do not hide. Reach out to support groups and other parents. Find people. People who have your back. People who have been there. People you can cry and laugh with. Believe me there will be tears and plenty of them, but just as many laughs, which are the ones you’ll remember.”

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“Autism is not something we thought about.” says Preston’s parents. “It’s not how we planned our sons life, not how we planned ours. For whatever reason, it’s what we have, and we are grateful. This little boy is a light. He is full of life and happiness. His smile and laugh are infectious. He gives the best hugs. Preston is amazing and we love him.”