Success is a word that took on new meaning after getting the diagnosis of Autism when Dean was 3 years old. We had watched a bright vivacious toddler disappear into a non-verbal, anxious, sensitive and fearful child. Dean was still there, but he seemed tortured by his world. So, we began the journey of redefining the word “success”. One of our first successes was finding The Autism Project! Being surrounded by professionals, parents and other children who were also striving for successes made an incredible difference.
Success to us was when Dean stopped screaming when things didn’t go his way, or in the order he had it set in his mind to be. Success to us was when Dean would go outside and not scream in fear when he saw a bug, it started raining or the wind blew strongly. Success to us was when Dean formed friendships with the other kids in his therapy group. Success to us was when Dean began trying new foods. Success to us was when Dean could get dirty and not have to stop the activity he was enjoying.
Successes have continued through the years, but they have changed a bit. Success to us is when Dean’s IEP meetings have more positive feedback than negative. Success to us is when Dean initiates going to school dances or participating in school events. Success to us is when Dean talks to us about how he is feeling, what his likes and dislikes are, what his dreams are. Success to us is Dean working his first job, getting his driver’s license and being about to graduate from High School. Success more than anything is Dean living in his world, loving his world and no longer being afraid of his world. Thank you, Angel, and thank you to the Autism Project. Thank you to the parents who held our hands, let us cry on their shoulders and cheered us on through the successes. Thank you to the other kids in Dean’s therapy group for challenging Dean, making him laugh, being his friend. Thank you most of all to Dean – for never giving up, for managing his Autism, for embracing his differences and finding his dreams! We love you all!
"Success to us was when Dean formed friendships with the other kids in his therapy group."