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About Nicky

 

 

 
Our Journey:

Nicholas was diagnosed with moderate to high functioning Autism in February of 2005. Like many young children, his development was that of a typical healthy infant and toddler up until around 18 months to 2 years of age - developmental milestones were met and he was active, curious, and easily engaged. It was during this time that we began to notice a very subtle change in his behavior. He slowly stopped using the few words that he‘d mastered and lost the affect he’d had in earlier months. Our doctor would jokingly say he had a little “poker face”. We were also told not to worry – children growing up in households where two languages are spoken are typically a little delayed in verbal communication. As we did not know better at the time, we believed this advice and tried not to worry too much about it. During this time, we also began to notice how he’d gravitate toward spinning toys and had an unusually high interest in letters. Wherever we went he’d fixate on letters – traffic signs, billboards, shopping cart handles, logos – letters everywhere! He knew them all and could identify them by age one.

When Nicky was 2 years and 3 mos., his vocabulary had nowhere near 20 words so we sought out an early intervention agency and began working with an Early Intervention Teacher and Speech Therapist. In November of 2004 we also began seeing an Occupational Therapist for some motor planning and sensory integration issues. It was during this time that we decided to have him evaluated by a developmental pediatrician. As parents and as teachers, we knew that there was something more to his developmental delays – something that we had instinctively known long before but failed to face. After his diagnosis of Autism in February of 2005, we were devastated but determined to learn all we could about how we could help our son progress and thrive. Faced with the enormity of what this meant for him and for our family, we immediately began researching and reading about Autism. I remember late nights at the computer and at Barnes and Noble just reading and collecting countless books that we’d take turns reading over the next few months. Together with our wonderful and knowledgeable Occupational Therapist, we also learned about the DIR/Floortime Model and how we could use this model to help Nicholas master the building blocks of relating, communicating and thinking. Together, we attended the Infancy and Early Childhood Training Course offered by Dr. Stanley Greenspan in Washington D.C. and began working with Nicholas intensively at home. It was the first time we really felt excited, encouraged and hopeful as we could see Nicholas light up through what we were doing.

Through the floortime approach and other interventions that include a Gluten/Casein Free diet, Amino Acid and Vitamin/Mineral supplements tailored by a DAN doctor to meet his specific needs, Occupational Therapy and Speech Therapy sessions 3x/week, amazing and compassionate early childhood special education teachers whom Nicholas adores, and countless hours at home engaged in DIR/Floortime activities, the progress that Nicholas has made is more than we could have ever imagined in a years’ time. Where he was non-verbal at this time last year, he is now talking up a storm and it is becoming more spontaneous, functional and purposeful everyday. He is now beginning to engage in pretend play using imagination and creativity and we are doing our best to help him along. His best friend is his little sister and they talk and play for long periods of time, they act silly together and make up songs – they also fight and tattle on each other just as all “typical developing” siblings do as well! Nicholas’ self restricted diet has expanded to include many new foods, he sings and hums his favorite songs all of the time, he loves parks and trails and rough-housing with daddy, he loves Mickey Mouse, Dr. Seuss and his toy car collection.

We still have MANY challenges that we face daily and we are working to help him come through them, but his success outweighs them by far. Since the start of this whole journey I can truly say with every confidence that it is not us who have done any of it through our own hands and minds, but it is Christ who has carried us day by day and has provided every person, resource, and path that has come before us. His promise of a future and a hope is true and because of this I know without a doubt that Nicholas will continue to thrive and we will forever be grateful.

This site is dedicated to all the people who have helped our family and Nicholas. Thanks to the Oak Hills Church Children’s Ministry Directors and Staff for their unending reflection of Christ’s love, thanks to Robin Diamond, Kristy Walker, Kim Redding, Gayla Aguilar, and Sabre Haby – as teachers and therapists you have been instrumental in bringing Nicholas so far with your skill, knowledge and passion for these children. To Maggie Dougherty, Charles Russell, Diana Hunt, Anissa Moore, and Judy Gray, we could not have been more blessed with such wonderful, patient and loving early childhood teachers – Nicholas adores you all and so do we! Finally, our family and friends for their continuous support. There are no words to describe what you’ve meant to us over this past year - We love you!!

 

 

Update – August 2012

Nicky is now entering the fifth grade at Thornton Elementary School in NISD, fully mainstreamed with some intermittent inclusion support, and doing amazingly well!  He loves reading and math, and LOVES to talk and talk and talk!  We constantly remember the days when we wondered if he ever would!  Nicky is at or above grade level in all academic areas and he is enjoying interacting with his peers at school too.  His best friend is still his little sister Neve – together they imagine, create and play with the force of “twin tornados”!  With continued interventions - his progress in all areas still surpasses expectations.  Nicky has also taken up guitar and drums and is doing amazing in both!  People are always asking us what we think has made the biggest difference on our road to recovery with Nicholas and without hesitation we can say FAITH, EARLY INTERVENTION and the consistency of the DIR model.  That is a developmental, individual difference, relationship-based approach aimed at building those healthy foundations for social, emotional, and intellectual capacities.  There are and probably always will be challenges that we face and work through on a daily basis, but looking back to where we started and seeing how far God has brought us through constant work and prayer – we know all things are truly possible to those who BELIEVE.  The journey is not over, but we are equipped to handle what comes down the road through Him – He’s not finished with us yet.

 

I used to ask, where was the plan here?  ……..The plan and the blessing of Autism in our family is that we are changed as children of God, He has allowed us to have experienced first-hand His deliverance.  He didn’t calm the storm, but He calmed His children.  Now we can go forth to support others facing this for the first time.  We can advocate for better services and resources, and we can make a difference through what we’ve been given.  How blessed are we to have been brought so far that the ONLY thing we can attribute it to is the fact that ONLY GOD COULD  HAVE DONE THIS!!

 

 

Then King David went in and sat before the LORD, and he said: ‘Who am I, O Sovereign LORD, and what is my family, that you have brought me this far?...Is this your usual way of dealing with man, O Sovereign LORD?...How great you are, O Sovereign LORD! There is no one like you, and there is no God but you...”

2 Samuel 7:18, 19b, 22a  

 

Update - April 2009:

As I read this excerpt on Nicholas written back in 2006, I am once again reminded of the power of early intervention in the lives of children with Autism. Nicky is now a first- grader at Thornton Elementary School in NISD, fully mainstreamed with intermittent inclusion support, and doing amazingly well! He loves to read and write, and talk and talk and talk! We constantly remember the days when we wondered if he ever would! Nicky is at or above grade level in all academic areas and he is enjoying interacting with his peers at school too. His best friend is still his little sister Neve – together they imagine, create and play with the force of “twin tornados”! With the continued interventions of DIR Floortime, and weekly Speech and Occupational Therapy - his progress in these areas still surpasses expectations. People are always asking us what we think has made the biggest difference on our road to recovery with Nicholas and without hesitation we can say EARLY INTERVENTION and the consistency of the DIR model. That is a developmental, individual difference, relationship-based approach aimed at building those healthy foundations for social, emotional, and intellectual capacities. There are and might always be challenges that we face and work through on a daily basis, but looking back to where we started and seeing how far God has brought us through constant work and prayer – we know all things are truly possible to those who BELIEVE.

To Kim Redding, OT and all the people at Thornton Elementary who work with, encourage and love Nicky each and every day – thank you for the lengths you’ve gone to……..thank you for believing in him.