I became pregnant by an abusive man. I soon found out that he would be a prime and we would be lucky if he made it to 3 lbs. After surgery and intensive care for me he was born 3 lbs 1oz. He never had to be on a breathing machine thanks to my not smoking and to all the steroids they gave me during my pregnancy to help his lungs develop. After he reached 5 lbs he was discharged and we went to live in a domestic violence shelter. He and my older son were my inspiration to go to college to change our lives. I knew because he was premature that he would be behind developmentally for at least a year, but from everything I was learning in my childhood growth and development classes I knew by 18 months that he was way farther behind than he should be. I took him to a specialist and asked if he was Autistic. The reply was that he was severely Autistic and may never potty train, walk, or talk. As he grew older he became violent and I knew the anger came from not being able to speak. I began to place pictures on everything in the house and I made a binder so he could have matching pictures to point to so he would not have to drag us to the items he wanted. I added pics of emotions as well. By this point I had a Bachelors in Psychology and Communications. The school could not handle his behaviors so they put him on home bounding. I worked on getting my Masters in special education to find out how to reach my young son. He was potty trained and now he spoke 200 words on his own. We were making great strides but the school still could not help him. Knowing he has a social deficit I decided to start a summer camp in my rural area to bring together other individuals who needed to learn the same skills I was using SPED tactics to teach AJ. I founded Risingabilities.org & soon found myself going from a stay at home mom with no day care or friends who could help,(much less handle our quick visits),to a successful advocate. I found a school district to move to close by. There I found a career that was a perfect fit. I work at the Developmental Disability Resources as an intake coordinator for families who feel alone/overwhelmed. I introduce them to resources that change the lives of families like mine. Raising my son with Special Needs is not only challenging, but inspirational. He has added a new meaning, direction, and focus for my parental, intellectual, and social well being.
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