One of my boys, Thomas, now aged 17 was diagnosed around his third birthday with classic autism along with his twin brother. He was non-verbal and had dreadful temper tantrums due to his frustration with having no form of communication. But he was at heart a very gentle soul and we knew this and had to help him.
So at 3, we started both boys on an intensive ABA programme which they continued full time (35 hrs a week) until age 10, going into mainstream school part time with their 1:1 specialist tutors. They then progressed to a small inclusive special needs school.
Years and years of hard work by Thomas, his tutors and us has improved his life beyond all measure. There is no ‘miracle cure’ for autism but there is so much difference that can be made.
Thomas is now 17, he has language although not enough for him to be able to pass any conventional exams except one coveted GSCE in Art. He is happy, he is social, he loves life and everyone around him loves him for his enthusiasm and his gentle approach to others.
Several years ago, he took part in an annual school cross country race and although he came about 50th, it sparked a desire for him to learn to run. I took him to the local running shop who had an adult evening running group and that was the start of his love for running. He now runs 5 or 6 times a week, with a local club, the running shop and a very supportive local running coach. He has friends in high places and the running community has embraced him.
On Wednesday, his final ever schools cross country race, he did it, he won! 4 km’s on the frosty ground in Richmond Park in 14.09.
I don’t know who was the most delighted, I think Thomas was, but I was the proudest Mother there, to witness my son achieving his dream. It was the first time anyone from his special needs school has ever won (mainstream schools also took part) and the Up and Running manager, Ricky was there too as he is every year to see his triumph.
Sometimes , our children get an obsession with something and are then so focussed on it. In Thomas’ case, it his running and his single-minded desire to win has paid off.
It may have been his final school’s race, but this is just the beginning of Thomas’ running career.
So never give up, our children are capable of greatness.