** UPDATED April 6, 2018
As the saying appropriately goes, “if you’ve met one person with autism, you’ve met one person with autism.” Meet my son Devin. If you read my blog you know him well. He is the reason this blog exists. Born in 1993, he is a child of the pre-Autism Speaks age. Before we were fluent in internet searches for resources, research and direction, families like mine were on our own. Pediatricians who discounted boys as “slow” and persnickety learners were aplenty. Early intervention programs were scarce and school districts routinely denied the most basic of services. Sadly, there were few professionals who would even consider a diagnosis of autism for a child under the age of five. In short, there was no awareness, no acceptance, and little sense of hope for children expected of having the “a word.”
As I have often said, we were lucky; as a physical therapist I had treated toddlers at St.Mary’s Children’s Hospital who were diagnosed with “atypical developmental disorder” in the 1970s. Fifteen years later, I recognized what was oh so very familiar in my own one-year-old son. Frankly, I was equipped to work the system. When I could not receive the diagnosis I sought, I took my son weekly to a private speech therapist. I hounded my school district until they provided a special education teacher who came to our home twice weekly. Thereafter, my son spent three years in a center-based school and repeated Kindergarten. He completed another three in a private school catering to special needs children. As he was drawn out of his isolated world, as he slowly connected to the people in his life, as he turned ten years old, we finally met Devin.
World Autism Month
We Light It Up Blue for every family awaiting diagnosis. We screw in the blue light bulb for our neighbor receiving their 100 Days Kit next week. My house goes blue on April 2nd in the hopes that research will reveal the answers that my grandchildren will most likely need. I know in my heart it was that the aggressive and very early treatment that unlocked my boy’s full potential. At twenty-one, he received his very first paycheck TODAY. As a Congressional Intern for the Majority Leader of the U.S. House of Representatives, Capitol Hill has come to know Devin, its one person with autism.
***Devin graduated with a double major from Georgetown University in May of 2016, summa cum laude in Government and cum laude in Psychology. Today, he is Senior Staff Assistant to the Majority Leader in the U.S. House of Representatives. His passion is policy, and how he can shape the future for spectrum individuals. Stay tuned to our “one person!!”
More recently, my son has gone on to become a Legislative Assistant in the United States House Committee on Ways and Means, Healthcare Subcommittee. Oh, the places he’ll go!!