Reviewed & Edited by: M. Rebecca DiLettuso, MSW, Executive Director
A Young Man’s Successful Journey!
High school can be tough… the social circles, the academic pressure, the peer pressure. It can be difficult for any child, but a child with an Autism diagnosis? That adds a whole new level of challenge. All because of Early Intervention Services provided more than 10 years ago by teli, one child has been able to face those challenges and create successes that were unimaginable at the time of diagnosis!
Jace is that child – now a young man at the age of 15. A sophomore in high school, Jace has some amazing accomplishments to include on his college application! An honor student, a member of student council, a runner in track as well as voted the nicest boy by his class multiple times! Math and karate are his passions, winning many county math competition awards and most recently earning his third degree black belt in karate while at the same time sharing his love by teaching younger children karate skills.
Early Intervention Provides a Developmental Foundation
His mother, Tammy reflects,” I am convinced that if he hadn’t gotten Early Intervention Services through teli, he would have never had a foundation to build upon. They were with him every step of the way.” In Jace, she has come to personally realize the impact and importance of Early Intervention services for children with developmental delays. She believes wholeheartedly that addressing Jace’s delays early, was instrumental in helping him to reach his full potential from a academic as well as social perspective.
Tammy described her son’s challenges prior to the diagnosis that were worrisome. “He wasn’t speaking and was having difficulty eating. Also I was concerned about his behavior, it was just unusual, and not at all like other children. While I thought it might just take time and things would be ok, my family and my pediatrician suggested that he be evaluated, so I took that step. ”
The Diagnosis and Getting Early Intervention Help
Learning about Jace’s diagnosis of Autism was a difficult time for Tammy and her family. “I felt scared, worried and confused. I began to search for whatever would help our son,” remembers Tammy. ” teli was incredible and led the way! Occupational Therapist, Debbie Fekos started immediately! And we were so lucky to have her!”
Incorporating Early Intervention Activities Into the Family Routine
The Early Intervention therapy for Jace focused on daily support to help him with speech and feeding. Tammy recalls some of the techniques and activities the teli therapists taught her to help Jace, to this day!” The therapist created an valuable tool for us to incorporate into our family routine that was a ring of laminated picture cards. Jace would use the picture cards to identify objects and eventually verbalize the words. That ring went everywhere with us!”
To address Jace’s difficulty with food textures, particularly soft foods, the therapists developed a reward system that helped him to gradually tolerate a variety of foods. Tammy laughs that she believes that reward system continues to play a major role in his life today as he continues to compete and work diligently to reach new heights in his karate skills and in school.
Encouragement for Others
“With Early Intervention, amazing things can happen!” says Tammy.” I guess I just wanted to thank teli and ask that you share this with other parents experiencing those feelings of desperation and worry. It may offer some encouragement. Early Intervention is hard work but if you are determined enough, it can make a big difference in your child’s future. ”
At teli, we truly believe in the potential of every child and find it rewarding to learn of stories like Jace’s when true potential is indeed reached!
In his own words
Finally, Tammy shared an essay authored by Jace sharing his beliefs on Acceptance and his personal journey for acceptance.
“As I think about what is important to me I believe ACCEPTANCE is powerful and certainly not practiced by our society nearly enough. This word represents Equality, Approval, Comfort, Belonging, and Love. Our world has always been filled with diversity, not one individual out there is the same, and the word “acceptance” is what can help play a big role in uniting all of us.
Many people in our society put so much wasted energy into countless, hurtful rejections; it typically has a negative outcome for all. I have observed this my whole life for as far back as I can remember. The challenge of being accepted starts at an early age when we first play outside, start attending school, social events, participate in sports, as I am sure continues through college and the workplace. Acceptance is something that makes the news on a daily basis as not being practiced enough.
From a young age growing up, acceptance was always something that didn’t come easy for me. Age three gave me the diagnosis of being on the Autistic Spectrum… Wow, what was that??? It was a long journey I found myself on along with my supportive family and teachers, and many others along the way. I have been working on overcoming challenges my whole life to make me the success I believe I am today. I am proud of my accomplishments, and grateful for all the help I received along the way. Still to this day, acceptance is still something I hope for and strive to have on a daily basis. Being socially accepted into a group is something many people take for granted. I have learned in my first two years of high school social acceptance is still a difficult task.”
Everyone has different looks, abilities, beliefs, and outlooks on life. This is something relevant society has to understand. You may not agree and accept everything your peers do, but having an open mind, positive attitude and just showing respect for others will make our time her a better experience for all.