Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Autism Answer: "I Am Thankful for Uncle Dar."

Declyn and Dramma (his grandma)

"I am thankful for my uncle (Dar) because without him my grandma wouldn't have started her business that helps thousands of families with autism in the world."~Declyn Shelton

When my youngest son, Declyn, was about five months old he would twist his body in crazy positions to avoid eye contact and certain types of touch.

As he grew he would throw-up daily, hold me tight for at least an hour at the playground working up the courage to play where strangers played (even though his brothers invited and invited), he had a need to wrap his fingers in my hair that kept him forever in my arms. He and his other sensory and socially challenged brother became intense friends, with a closeness that made them seem like twins. 

This never frightened or worried me. I have grown up surrounded and gifted by autism. I have family members with similar sensory, social, and communication challenges. Because my mom has not only helped my brothers in these areas but also hundreds of others around the world, my son and I were in good hands. It was a simple question of enjoying the work. Which I strongly believe meant helping my son with his challenges while asking the world to be more open to diversity. It's not his job to be like us, it's our job to shift ourselves and learn to like all of us.

As a family we encouraged eye contact, discovered ways to help him keep his food down (mostly!), visited playgrounds intentionally over and over--not pushing him to become socially comfortable but believing he could and celebrating each step of the way--until he became Mr. Popularity. His need for wrapping fingers in my ponytail had lessened; became mostly a bedtime thing with the odd stressful-day type need thrown in for good measure.

Declyn is now involved in Marching Band, he's doing a trumpet solo for the regional competition, he's on the debate team, he's rarely home and consistently surrounded by people which he's quite comfortable with. Safe in the knowledge that when he comes home we'll allow him time alone and personal space. And I'll let him play with my hair when he needs it.

Declyn is fifteen. He is my youngest. My baby. I kind of want him to stay little and I even catch myself getting my hair wet for him (he loves it when my hair is wet) just in case he wants to still need me. Usually, he's busy.

I'm so proud of all four of my boys, who have helped each other, hurt each other, compared themselves to each other, pushed away, pulled close, but have always, always loved each other.

I'm thankful for my entire family.

I find it simple and natural to feel and express gratitude often, and with volume. My sons do the same, mostly when talking about each other or me.

One day while I was cleaning our house (okay, fine, trying to find something under all of the mess. tee hee!) I found a piece of schoolwork Declyn had done way back in his younger years, when he was still struggling pretty strongly with sensory issues and social challenges. 

"I am thankful for my uncle (Dar) because without him my grandma wouldn't have started her business that helps thousands of families with autism in the world."~Declyn Shelton

That heaping helping of gratitude and gratefulness is a delicious addition to the Thanksgiving season!

Hugs, smiles, and love!!
Autism Answers with Tsara Shelton (Facebook)
www.brainbody.net <--- Check out the business he's talking about.

My boys having burgers with Uncle Dar