Our son Bobby became a student atNassau Suffolk Services for Autism’s Martin C. Barell School in the summer of 2013. Another parent once described being selected for the school as winning the Mega Millions. Indeed, we too feel as though we have been awarded a huge fortune.
From the time Bobby was 18 months old, there was a weight growing in my chest. Even as a first-time mother, I knew Bobby was missing milestones. I saw the behaviors – the spinning, the lack of language. An alarm bell in my head sent me to his pediatrician; and we began the process to have our son evaluated for early intervention services. This was the beginning of a long, hard swim against the tide. In pre-school Bobby was not making the anticipated progress. I read everything I could get my hands on. We saw neurologists, geneticists, and evaluation centers. I attended every seminar given on the process. But the weight in my chest kept on growing.
The transition to primary school was riddled with difficulties. I toured nearly a dozen placements and couldn’t find one that would be appropriate. The lump in my throat grew as I pictured leaving Bobby at any of those places. When NSSA had an opening the following year, we were thrilled to receive a request to come in for a screening. We showed up with Bobby and were taped us working with him. Our visit concluded with a tour of the school and a meeting with the senior clinical team, while Bobby spent time with teachers. When Bobby returned, excited to see a room full of people, he began clapping and shouting “If you’re happy and you know it!” which meant only one thing – he wanted us to sing with him. Despite his verbal limitations, Bobby conducted the entire room in a rousing version of “if you’re happy and you know it…” We were so touched by how kind everyone was in obliging Bobby.
When Bobby was accepted, we knew he would be where he belonged. Now his learning does not stop when school ends. His teachers, our family, and all those around him are aligned in finding opportunities to teach him throughout the day, every day. Given the care and attention that goes into planning Bobby’s lessons, we do all we can to carry over into our home services and daily living.
His dad and I recently participated in an 8 week Parent Training Workshop taught by NSSA’s Senior Clinical Staff. These Workshops are offered to family members and the support teams of individuals with autism. The classes were tremendously informative and interactive. We learned strategies that we strive to employ routinely. Now I feel that weight in my chest grow ever lighter because Bobby is being educated and cared for by people that are teaching him as a whole person. I can trust we will get the assistance and education we need to give Bobby a fulfilling life. I know our whole family can be a part of the journey.