Why I Listen
My name is Cola. One year ago I became Auntie to an adorable 4-year old little drummer boy I met in a restaurant one evening. His expressions of life beat to a rhythm apart from, yet inclusive of the majority. When we began to communicate he echoed my words and often released my hugs before I could inhale the fragrance of his beauty. Initially, I would find myself feeling overwhelmed and crying because I felt helpless in my ability to connect with him, but as we began to spend more time together, I began to learn that entire he said when he did things repeatedly. My heart began to translate what he wanted, my mind began to seek all that he needed and my passion said we could have it all, by any means necessary; realizing that in order for us to have it all, we would have to employ the skills of everyone. So To start we organized playgroups with my nieces and nephews his age. We began reading very short stories during story-time, modeling expressive language and phonetics for him to speak and kept redefining transition techniques along with a host of other things, as because our little one’s actions of autism where loudly speaking, saying: “I have all that I need to be a successful, independent, strong human being, but I need you to intervene and provide me with the resources to support my personal developmental needs.” In that moment, autism spoke, and as we listened, and boy oh boy did our little drummer boy began to respond and change recognizably.
The echolalia diminished, his social skills increased, his transitions became age-appropriate and he began talking so much we had to ask him at bedtime to have quiet-time so we could go to sleep. I could go on and on talking about this budding little one, sprouting as if he were an oak tree but the pages of this blog would be overwhelmed and we would not be able to share with you some important chords to make beautiful music with your little ones who so anxiously wait to plant seeds of Oak Trees.
Autism is a voice of the adorable little ones with a unique way of communicating. There is no such thing as “average” when it comes to any child and there is no “norm” when it comes to any human being but what there is, is a majority. Yet, majority isn’t necessarily what’s right and minority isn’t necessarily what’s wrong; however, there are just defining characteristics of differences that make each individual a unique expression of love.
My profession as an Early Intervention Program Coordinator for children ages 2-5 with developmental delays and disabilities lends to me a world of discovery. A treasure of resources, I aspire to share with many. So, when I learned of [Grammy-nominated R & B singer] Bilal‘s mission to use his platform of music to raise awareness about a subject dear to his heart, I could not pass up the opportunity to partner my knowledge, passion and energy to expand, neither could I ignore the synchronized happenstance fact that the name of Bilal’s tour is the nickname we call our child. [For more information on Bilal's LITTLE ONE SUMMER TOUR for Autism Awareness, click here.]
On this tour we will share the developmental milestone check list and local resources. We will link you to appropriate services for your little ones to experience his or her civil right to a “Free Appropriate Public Education”. We will also share contact information of proven advocates and tie your heart strings to strong connections with other families who share your passion and vision of a beautiful landscape for your little one’s budding oak tree to grow into a landmark that will outlast generations and endure the phases of growing into a strong, healthy, independent human being. So, when you find yourself pondering the question of why you pour out your heart, continue to lend your tireless efforts and do what you do in support of these unique little ones, the answer will always exist in the silent voice that whispers, “AUTISM SPEAKS!”
This entry is dedicated to Dominic, Our Little One and his Mother Marta.
“In Their Own Words” is a series within the Autism Speaks blog which shares the voices of people who have autism, as well as their loved ones. If you have a story you wish to share about your personal experience with autism, please send it to firstname.lastname@example.org. Autism Speaks reserves the right to edit contributions for space, style and content. Because of the volume of submissions, not all can be published on the site.