Sunday, April 21, 2013

Through Devan's Eyes - Part 1

In raising a child with autism,  one of our main goals is to teach Devan how to interact with other people.  We work on this all of the time.  Another goal, that is often overlooked, is to teach other people how to interact with Devan.  Although it's often overlooked, it may be just as important as the first one.

This morning in Church, we had the privilege of sharing a little bit about Devan in hopes that it would help people better understand how to interact with him.  I decided to post it here on my blog so that others who associate with Devan could learn as well if they would like to.  The following was adapted from 10 Things Every Child with Autism Wishes You Knew by Ellen Notbohm.  Since it is long, I decided to break it into three pieces.  So here is Part 1:


                                                 THROUGH DEVAN'S EYES
1.  I am first and foremost a little boy.  I have autism but I am not defined by Autism

*My birth was the same as any other.  I was born on March 16th of 2013 in Omaha.  My mom had a C-Section and I arrived about 3 weeks early.

*I was a normally developing little boy up to about 18 months.  I began to use small words, began interacting with others, and began smiling and giggling.  At 18 Months, my brain changed and everything changed.  My mom and dad had a lot going on at that time so they have trouble remembering how it all happened, but one night my fever spiked up to about 104 degrees and my body became limp. 

*Since then, I’ve never been the same.  I completely lost all of my limited vocabulary, I quit looking at people in the eyes and becam. fascinated with letters, shapes and patterns. I quit acknowledging when people called my name and wouldn’t respond if somebody was talking to me.

*Since that time, I have made leeps and bounds in my recovery.  I love to tease my sister, tickle my little brother, and to wrestle with my dad.  I am very ornery sometimes and love to push my mom’s buttons. 

*Every weekday, I grab my bag, ipad and lunch and run to the school van.  I love school. I love my friends there, my teachers and my routine. 

* I was a little later than most kids, but at the age of 6, I learned how to go potty in the toilet and began to wear big boy underwear.  Frankly, if it was up to me, I would  run around in only big boy underwear all of the time.

*My interests change but I always have one main interest at a time that I spend most of my free time on.

*I used to be scared when mom and dad left me with Grandma and Grandpa Stutzman and Grandma and Grandpa Velder, but now I’m not scared at all.  I love to go visit my grandparents.  I actually let out a holler when we go near their houses and don’t stop.

*Although, it used to be hard for me to look at people in the eyes, it’s really not a problem anymore.  I love to look in people’s eyes and giggle with them.

*I used to like to spend most of my time in a separate room from everybody else, but now I like to be where the action is.  Every once in a while, when I became overwhelmed, I like to go to a different room myself, but most of the time, I like to be with everybody else.

*I have an endless supply of energy.  I never get tired and fall asleep in the car or take naps.  I go and go and go 100 mph all day long.

2. My sensory perceptions are disordered so my 5 senses interpret things differently than most people.

*Loud, screaming noises completely overwhelm me.  If I hear a baby cry, I lose my composure and would do anything to make that noise go away. 

*Sometimes I make loud noises myself to drain out all the noises around me.  If I am making noises please don’t think that I am trying to be disruptive.  Just know that this is my way of coping with all of the noises around me.

*I hate to go to loud events in enclosed areas like basketball games, wedding dances or other social events.  I would much rather stay outside and play where it’s quiet.

*My visual senses are under-stimulated, so I seek out bright, colorful, pictures, and objects.   I love to look through pictures of all of my friends, teachers, and family on my Ipad.

*My sense of taste is also under- sensitive so I love to eat things that are spicy, salty and have a lot of texture.  I don’t like bland foods.  My favorite foods are pepperoni pizza, chips and salsa, and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.

*I have a very high tolerance for pain.  When I fall down, I usually don’t cry but jump back up and keep going.  I also love to jump off high things, because I love the pressure in my legs that the landing causes.                

3. Autism does cause limitations in my life.  Please distinguish between what I won’t do and what I can’t do.

*Like any other little boy, sometimes I get lazy, un-motivated and ornery.  There are things that I won’t do because I don’t want to do them.  There are things, though, that I really can’t do.  If I won’t do something, please don’t just assume that I am refusing to do them.

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