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Barney loves Wyatt…and I love the both of them!

It is a long affair that began when Wyatt’s autism did. Wyatt’s case is what “they” call regressive-autism. He hit his developmental milestones like …roll-over, babble, smile, sit-up, stand-up,walk…and slowly talk. He was a bit slower than his (10 yr. older) brother Aaron. However, Aaron did everything FAST…too fast. Still does but, THAT… is another blog best left un-written!Meet Wyatt

Wyatt absolutely loved to count and recite the alphabet! He could get any random letter off of the fridge whenever requested. So happy and proud to do it! He could spell out his name…we would start him off…W…Y…and he would excitedly chime in ATT! It seems like Wy accrued about 75 words. I can’t say for sure…I never really kept track of them or listed them. Why would I?

After the first words are uttered and notated its usually…FULL SPEED AHEAD…with “Why, what, where, when, how, can I, will we??! I remember thinking , (as a girl looking toward motherhood) how will I teach a child to speak? When I asked an adult about that…there was a pause and a,”well it just happens.” So through…OSMOSIS we learn to talk without much trouble?! Words push through our “stream” of consciousness effortlessly. LUCKY US.

Wyatt NOT so lucky. Toward the end of his 3rd year…his speech began to blurr. Words he had mastered began to “fall apart” so to speak. One consonant after another would drop off, until there was nothing left! We were dumbfounded and had no idea what was happening. We were “hoping” that it was a temporary set back…nothing serious. Yet other behaviors began as well. His obsession with back and forth motion as he watched it in reflection. At first …we thought, cute. Until we realized , it was the start of his self stimulating behaviors. Him literally moving to “activate” his brain.

Barney became very important to him during this time … as he entered his abyss. Barney was literally the last word he clung to! The word he tried to hold on to as all the others were stripped from him ONE BY ONE. That was 2002…and Barney is as big a part of our lives as ever. It just makes him HAPPY! The singing and dancing gets him up and moving, laughing and chirping! How can you not love a guy that’s been a life-line to your child?! Using both hemispheres of the brain occurs effortlessly for most. Not for autistics.

Movement therapies are now emerging that force autistics to use both hemispheres of the brain. This explains the “innate” side-to-side or rocking motions that are so common! Barney is also BIG ON MANNERS and TURN TAKING. Essential elements in A.B.A. Therapies… (Applied Behavior Analysis.) So BARNEY has been fighting the GOOD FIGHT! For years… an unwitting therapist if you will! Many autistic children continue on with Barney as their typical peers out-grow him. As Wyatt approaches 11 …we will continue to do movement therapy with Barney. Our BARNEY A.B.A. ! We will learn manners and greetings and as he so aptly says…we will keep learning “HOW TO BE A FRIEND!”

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Sounds like another of Wyatt’s sing-songy repertoire …”Fape, Fape, Fape!” F.A.P.E. stands for FREE appropriate PUBLIC EDUCATION. Something every child in this great country should RIGHTLY be entitled to.

Unfortunately…like all great systems they are not always implemented properly. Especially with the wonderful word “appropriate” inserted into the already muddy equation. I wonder how many legal battles that line in the sand…I mean “word” has drawn? SERIOUSLY, could they make it any tougher on a group of people in an already TOUGH situation? There is so much range in ability/disability within the SPECTRUM. The puzzle piece ICON says it all!

How do we deem what is appropriate for your child as compared to mine? In the world of autism, the word appropriate really doesn’t even apply. They love to call everything autistics say or do inappropriate! So the nerve of them to force-feed us “their A-word”! It really isn’t working for us. In the case of a disabled child… Why not use the word “specialized” ? It’s much less confrontation. Appropriate would be considered “fighting words” in most conversations. Someone telling you something isn’t appropriate is a direct assault on your ideas.

Furthermore, HOW are these teachers able to decipher the appropriate teaching methods for autistics? In my case they just were NOT . Wyatt is a more profoundly affected individual… that my school district had absolutely NO BUSINESS even trying to accommodate. They just did not have a program to meet his abilities. Which is so often the case. Grouping kids by age works for typical people. When you automatically use age to group our kids on the spectrum…no telling what you will get?! Some kids may have math and reading skills while others can’t speak. Keeping kids in classes that are like this is futile! The kids that can,wait for the others who can’t…and so on. Not efficient. I call this school district tunnel-vision. Oh well …this is the way it’s always been done. “YADA,YADA,YADA!” (Thanks Wyatt!)

What could work? To “Draft” autistic kids to different classrooms. Take a look at four or five surrounding cities and the autistic students in those cities. Within that group it will be much easier to place like individuals together. Thus helping the teachers by having their classrooms more manageable. I can only imagine the time that is wasted and lost because of this lack of organization. Each state really needs to consider what I am saying here. It may seem a daunting task…but,it will be less daunting then continuing with the wheel-spinning. Think long run people …The autism train is not slowing down. Unfortunately it seems to be picking up steam! Kids on the spectrum deserve respect…not to just be clumped together and hope for some progress.

Let’s do the best we can to teach them cohesively…in a specialized program. Makes a lot of common sense to me! Dare I say it…it seems …APPROPRIATE!

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HI THERE, HI THERE, HI THERE! (?) !! I just came from tucking Wyatt in and I truly HEARD …a sing-songy version of the above mentioned! I’ve heard it before, just like ; YADA,YADA,YADA & DIGA,DIGA,DIGA. Along with several other … variations on a theme that have rotated in & out over the years. But there was something different about this time.

I exclaimed “Wyatt, you SAID Hi There!!” He proudly giggled…into a chirp simultaneously bouncing on belly, burying face in pillow! So between the two of us we said it a hundred times giggling and bouncing! Then I asked him the big question, “are you going to tell everyone hi there at school tomorrow?” He looked at me with the BIGGEST-WYATT smile giggling..”hi there hi there hi there.” So, I am happy to believe him as I sit here in this moment. I will go to sleep and hope my sweet boy keeps his loving words! In the morning we will find out at… ! If nothing else…he and I just had an incredible moment, that isn’t going anywhere! Such as life… in our autistic world, incredible moment after incredible moment (with the occasional meltdowns!)

WE ALL KNOW how our kids amaze us everyday. Fighting little spirits of pure heart! Kids that like all others want to be comfortable and happy. Which is quite the feat sometimes with the cards that have been dealt them. It can be like a science experiment learning how to make each individual comfortable in their own skin!

As parents of these beautiful people we begin to make a FORMULA. A formula that works for your child and family. When you are lucky you are surrounded with people that understand this. Schools that will take an “out of the box” approach like Leroy Haynes. Tailor making a program geared toward the individual needs of each child. It is also important to realize that some “traditional teaching methods” usually just don’t work for autistics.

Wyatt’s school has changed his whole demeanor. Even though he is NON-VERBAL I sense that he feels better understood. He is blessed to attend a school that takes the time to keep up with all emerging ideas and inform the community with FREE GUEST SPEAKERS and TRAININGS!

Just today…a massage therapist came to the school! When I picked Wyatt up I was informed that he was the one that had the longest massage!! I wasn’t surprised!!! Think…SQUEEZEBOX! HEY, now it’s dawning on me … if I want WORDS I”ll need to get my massage therapist certification!!!

WYATT’S WEIGHTED VEST was made by Suzanne Stone…an A~LEAGUE MOM!! Her site is

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