April is National Autism Awareness Month. And I've been privileged to be in community for 13 years with a man who lives with this challenge. But it's not the autism that defines him, it's his faith in Jesus Christ. If you've been around the blog for any length of time, you'll remember Brian ... and his heart-moving prayers to the Savior of his soul.
I am so delighted that Brian's responded to my invitation to share some of his story with you ...
LIVING A LIFE WITH AUTISM (AND THEN SOME!)
BY BRIAN YOUNG
IT ALL BEGAN WHEN I WAS ABOUT ONE YEAR OLD AND I HEARD GODS VOICE FOR THE FIRST TIME. HE WAS TELLING ME OF HARDSHIPS THAT WERE ABOUT TO COME AND REASSURING ME THAT HE WOULD BE THERE TO KEEP ME SAFE AND LOVE ME.
YOU SEE I WAS BORN WITH SEVERE CLUB FEET, SO BY THE TIME I WAS ONE WEEK OLD I WAS GETTING FULL LEG CASTS ON BOTH FEET TO HELP STRAIGHTEN THEM. THEY HAD TO BE CHANGED EVERY TWO WEEKS UNTIL I WAS THREE YEARS OLD. IT
WAS VERY PAINFUL TO HAVE THEM FORCE MY FEET INTO THE PROPER POSITION. I ALSO HAD NO LEG MUSCLES IN MY CALVES. I WAS SO AFRAID I WOULD NEVER BE ABLE TO WALK BUT EVEN WITH THE CASTS I STARTED WALKING AT 13 MONTHS.
GOD CONTINUED TO TALK TO ME AND ENCOURAGE ME UNTIL I WAS ALMOST 2 YEARS OLD. THAT WAS WHEN I LOST MY SPEECH AND EVERYTHING I SPOKE WAS VERY GARBLED AND VERY HARD FOR MY PARENTS TO UNDERSTAND. I WAS VERY DISAPPOINTED AND THIS WAS WHEN THE OBSESSIVE BEHAVIOR BEGAN TO START.
I WAS BROKEN HEARTED BUT GOD WAS THERE. MY PARENTS WERE VERY SUPPORTIVE RIGHT FROM THE START EVEN THOUGH I WASN'T DIAGNOSED WITH AUTISM UNTIL I WAS FOUR.
AT 3 YEARS OLD I HAD MY FIRST SET OF SURGERIES FOR CORRECTING MY FEET. THE NURSES AND THE DOCTORS THOUGHT I WAS DEAF AND HAD ME TESTED. I WASN'T OF COURSE.
I HAD FIVE SURGERIES ALTOGETHER FROM THE AGES 3 -6. ALL THIS AND AUTISM TOO. TALK ABOUT BEING OVERWHELMED! I REMEMBER SITTING IN MY MOM'S LAP PULLING ON HER LIPS TRYING TO GET HER TO UNDERSTAND WHAT I WAS SAYING. WE HELD ONE ANOTHER AND JUST CRIED.
I STARTED SCHOOL AT AGE 5 AT ASTOR DAY TREATMENT. THEY WEREN'T VERY UNDERSTANDING OF ME AND I DID NOT LIKE IT THERE. AT AGE 6 I STARTED IN THE BOCES KINDERGARTEN WHICH DIDN'T WORK OUT EITHER. WHEN I WAS 8 MY MOM TALKED THEM INTO GETTING ME INTO THE AUTISM CLASS. FINALLY, SOMEONE WHO UNDERSTOOD US. I WAS THE YOUNGEST IN THE CLASS BUT SHE WAS A GREAT TEACHER.
WHEN I WAS 13 THERE WAS PROBLEMS WITHIN IN THE CLASSROOM AND WITH THE SCHOOL DISTRICT. WE GOT A LAWYER FOR ME AND MY PARENTS HAD ONE FOR THEM. LOTS OF ARGUING AND LOTS OF MEETINGS. FINALLY THINGS SETTLED DOWN AND I WAS BACK AT BOCES IN A DIFFERENT CLASS. STILL GOD WAS WITH ME JUST LOVING ME AND SOOTHING MY SPIRIT.
FINALLY I GOT OUT OF THE SCHOOL SYSTEM. I WAS NEVER SO HAPPY AS I WAS THAT DAY. IN THE FOLLOWING SEPTEMBER I STARTED AT ABILITIES FIRST. AND THE FOLLOWING MONTH I WAS INTRODUCED TO FACILITATED COMMUNICATION, WHERE THE TEACHER LIGHTLY STEADIES YOUR HAND WHILE YOU TYPE ANSWERS TO HER QUESTIONS. I WAS REALLY EXCITED TO BE ABLE TO COMMUNICATE IN THIS WAY. THEY TAUGHT MY MOM HOW TO DO IT AND SHE TAUGHT MY DAD.
WHAT A RELEASE FOR ME! GOD HAD FINALLY COME THROUGH WITH HIS PROMISE OF GIVING ME A WAY TO COMMUNICATE.
I BEGAN TO WRITE PRAYERS AND POEMS. I WROTE MY FIRST POEM WHEN I WAS 22. MY MOM HAD ASKED ME IF I KNEW WHAT A POEM WAS, I TYPED “THERE WAS A MAN WHO COULD NOT SPEAK. A TEACHER CAME AND OPENED HIS MIND. NOW HIS LIFE IS FOUND.” SHE WAS SHOCKED, AND JUST BEGAN TO CRY TEARS OF JOY.
I HAVE SPOKEN WITH A SPECIAL DEVICE TO MANY CHURCH YOUTH GROUPS, TO A COUPLE OF SENIOR CITIZEN GROUPS , TO REHAB PROGRAMS PARENT NIGHT, AND ALSO IN ALBANY TO A GROUP THAT ADVOCATES FOR THE DISABLED.
MY GREATEST JOY IS MY HOME BASED CHURCH, CREEKSIDE MINISTRIES, WHO BELIEVES IN ME AND PRAYS FOR ME.