April: Art for Autism Month
Meet my amazing, funny, smart, and easy-going son Hank (or sometimes Henry). Hank was diagnosed with the Autism Spectrum Disorder right after he turned three, although we started suspecting he had autism around his first birthday. Hank's intelligence always outweighed children of his age. When he was one, he knew all the letters of the alphabet, started writing his full name, and spelled many simple words. We suspected that his brain was functioning differently because, despite his extreme intelligence, Hank did not like to make eye contact or engage in conversations. Instead, he wanted to play with letters, numbers, trains and legos; he liked lining up his toys in neat rows; he slept with his shoes on, and struggled with any changes to his routine.
After his diagnosis we felt scared but also relieved, as we now had answers and could focus on helping him navigate the world using his perspective. Thanks to ABA therapy, speech therapy, occupational therapy, and his amazing caregivers and teachers, Hank is doing beautifully. He mastered all of the first-grade readiness skills at the beginning of his kindergarten year, has a number of friends who love him dearly, engages in long-winded conversations with people, and displays an amazing sense of humor.
Autism is near and dear to our hearts as we have met amazing people on our Autism Navigation journey, and we want to continue raising awareness of children and adults living with autism.
Hank LOVES art. Any time I take out my art supplies, the kid is on the chair next to me wanting to create with me. The great thing about art is that it helps his mind express many things, it challenges his sensory processing, and it helps him strengthen his hand and finger strength. Just a few years ago he would have never let me paint his hands, get them sticky with mod podge, or be able to hold a brayer so easily. Look at him now!