Today, April 2nd is World Autism Day. We believed that it would be best to represent Autism through the eyes of a parent with an autistic child. For this blog, we talked to Mary Thompson, who has been a part of the TBTW family for years. We sat down to talk to Mary about her son Austin’s diagnosis and how her family dynamic has changed since his diagnosis.
Tell me a little about yourself and your family.
My name is Mary and I am the mother of two wonderful boys. My oldest son, Austin, has Autism Spectrum Disorder. Austin has a baby brother named Dylan and a loving father named Chance. We live in Youngsville, North Carolina. I stay at home with Dylan while Austin attends school part time. We enjoy arts and crafts, watching Disney movies, and playing outside.
How did you first discover Austin was autistic? How old was he? Are there any characteristics that stood out about him?
Around 18 months old, we started noticing that Austin was behind developmentally. So we started early intervention. Austin would not respond to his name, he would not make eye contact, his speech regressed, and he would walk on his toes. IN July of 2015, he was officially diagnosed.
What are some challenges that you face with Austin?
Austin’s biggest challenge is transitioning from one activity to another, especially during outdoor play. He also struggles with communication. Sensing danger is another big challenge for him and for us. He often runs towards the road, unaware that he can get hurt.
What have you learned from raising Austin?
We have learned that no two people with Autism are alike. Each person has different struggles, but also shines in their own way. Austin shines with his memory. He remembers parts in movies after only watching them once.
Austin really enjoys dressing up as the Flash!
What are some activities that Austin really enjoys?
Austin loves to wrestle with his dad and likes to play outside as much as he can. His favorite things are trains!
Here is Austin with his Auntie Em at an Autism Awareness walk, representing Team Awesome Austin!
What has made the biggest difference for Austin?
Austin attending pre-k at a local elementary school has made the biggest difference. He attends a mixed class and his speech has improved tremendously. His social skills are improving every day and he is able to sit and do activities with other students.
How did his diagnosis of autism change your life?
I look at everything differently now. I see the same things my son sees and I try to figure out how he interprets it. I’ve also learned how to slow things down and be more patient.
What advice would you give to other parents raising a child with autism?
I would recommend other families to seek out early intervention services. It has made a big difference for Austin. Also, having a great support system in place has helped us. Family and friends can be helpful when you need a break. Lastly, the Autism Society of North Carolina has resources available for families in need. Don’t be afraid to reach out to them!
Blogger: Mary Thompson