Autism Warrior:He's A Light

Tuesday, July 2, 2019

Written By: Ebony Davis
Photography: Felecia Causey

Less than 13 percent. That’s the likelihood of survival that a doctor gave my son Isaiah, who was born at just 23 weeks. I believed that the greater percentage of life was indeed lost when the delivering doctor said that Isaiah’s heart was not beating. But, love prevailed, and my little boy soon gained a heartbeat and was on his way to five months of growth in a neonatal intensive care unit.

You want to think that after not being able to hold your baby as soon as he opens his eyes in the world or after watching him fight for his life day after day before coming home, that you’ve experienced “enough” trauma for one lifetime and that all else should go well. But “we” mamas – the mothers with premature babies who experienced some kind of shortfall that may or not be connected to prematurity – know that that’s not how life works. The same roller coaster journey we experienced in the NICU might very well be a similar journey with other health matters.

That’s been the case with my Isaiah and autism. But let me back-track: life’s been good. God is oh so good and so merciful, and my Isaiah is a bright-spirited, intelligent, high-functioning 10 year-old with no physical health disabilities. Autism has not been a setback in any way, but rather an experience that we learn more about every season.

I first had Isaiah examined when he was around 4 years old because he was not cognizant of his surroundings. He repeatedly “missed the memo” to look both ways when crossing a street and always focused on whatever it was directly in front of him. He’d fall and not cry, showing that he had a high tolerance for pain. We visited a psychologist who ran tests and determined that he had a “mild” case of autism, as he was diagnosed at the time the medical profession was phasing out the “spectrum.” Had he been on the spectrum, he might have been diagnosed with Asperger’s. This particular form of autism is more social than it is mentally disabling: although Isaiah spoke later in life, he speaks and moves well. With Asperger’s he may just choose to speak when he wants.

Isaiah is very friendly but very focused on what matters to him. So children’s games like “Tag” and “Hide-and-go-Seek” are fun for him when he’s “not it,” but they often can call for a tantrum – even at age 10 – when he isn’t. You might think that that’s any child’s deal. But with autism, those tantrums can be debilitating by leading up to a series of rocking and self-stimulation mechanisms that make those around Isaiah nervous.

It’s sometimes difficult for Isaiah to work on math problems at school because the “matter-of-facts” in life aren’t as easy to come by with word problems. Therefore, it may take an extended amount of time to help Isaiah find the rationale or “fun” in learning a particular math assignment.

He doesn’t like to write much. He repeats “I love you” and “You’re Beautiful” to almost everyone he meets: a treat the first-time to unexpected passersby but often an annoyance to those who know him. He keeps tiny things in his hands at all time.

There’s a scripture in John 9 of the Bible where disciples of Jesus ask him what a man’s parents had done for the man to have been born with a disability. Jesus replies in John 9:3 “Neither this man nor his parents sinned, but this happened so that the works of God would be displayed in him” (NIV). I believe that firmly for every special individual with an autism diagnosis.

You’ll hear that every autistic child has some kind of unique gift. I think Isaiah’s is his value for small things. I say he’s going to be an engineer because he loves to tinker with small things. He is also so bright-spirited, I don’t know that the world could handle him if his light didn’t shine behind something the world doesn’t completely understand.

1 comment :

  1. This is beautiful Ebony. Thanks so much for sharing. I see a lot of my Owen in your Isaiah. I hold that scripture in my heart too. — Abbey


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