My name is Lola and I am the proud mother of a beautiful and wonderful autistic and visually impaired child. My son, Aden, was diagnosed with autism at the age of 15 months old. Before he was diagnosed with autism, he was receiving occupational and physical therapy at the age of 12 months to help him with his visual impairments. When Aden was only 3 months old, he was wearing his first pair of glasses. He is extremely far sighted and has a condition called congenital nystagmus, which causes his eyes to involuntarily move or jump around, causing him to have a difficult time seeing a still image. He has also recently received a diagnosis of retinitis pigmentosa, which can cause a wide variety of visual deficits. Aden's vision is impacted in several ways ways due to this condition, such as a limited field of vision (he does not have peripheral vision, and his sight can best be described as tunnel vision), reduced night vision, red-green color blindness and some blurred vision.
Around the age of 6 months, our Help Me Grow coordinator helped us to pursue an official diagnosis for Aden. We went to Akron Children's Hospital in Akron, Ohio and Aden was seen by the Neurodevelopmental Department where they performed many tests on him to determine the source of his "developmental delays". He had an MRI at 11 months old, followed by audiology testing, genetic testing, psychology studies, low vision screenings, occupational, speech and physical therapy evaluations, a retinopathy, a swallow study (because he refused to eat anything other than baby food, yogurt or pudding), and different meetings with the feeding clinic at Akron Children's Hospital.
The end result is that we know Aden is a moderate to high functioning autistic child with severe visual impairments that make him legally blind. However, he is the most amazing child we have ever met! He is smart and enjoys learning new things. He loves music and likes to play on his keyboard making his own songs. We discovered this year that he has perfect pitch! He took to piano lessons like he had been playing all his life! He can be funny sometimes, and says and does the cutest things! He is loving and affectionate and gives us hugs, kisses, cuddles, and "Eskimo kisses". He goes through phases of which toys or items he likes to play with, and sometimes they can be quite funny (his fascination with hangers, or spinning Pediasure bottles). Because of his low vision, he prefers toys that are brightly lit and that he can see well. He used to only want to play with toys that made music or had lights, but now that he's becoming a "big boy", he is playing with trains, and cars and trucks too! This year he learned how to "pretend play" and he is great at it! He loves to pretend that we are going shopping (all kinds of stores, like shoe stores, toy stores, grocery stores, pet stores, and more!) He also likes to watch Baby Einstein movies, which is quite common among low vision children since they feature single items at a time with high contrast colors and patterns. Of course he has every movie memorized (at this point, so do we!) and we just love to hear him talk along with the movies or sing the songs - it is so cute!
This year he started Kindergarten and he receives related services during half of the day, and the other half day he is in a typical Kindergarten classroom with his peers. He receives occupational, speech, and physical therapy as well as training with an O&M (Orientation and Mobility specialist) for his low vision needs, and also a TVI (Teacher of Visual Impairments) who works with him weekly for his low vision needs as well.
Aden truly brings us the most amazing joy we have ever known. He is our blessing and we thank God every day for giving him to us. He has helped us become the best versions of ourselves that we could ever be.
We hope you enjoy what you find on our website. We love and cherish our autistic child and we are proud to show our support of him and his condition. Wearing Autism Awareness jewelry is just one way you can show your support, and since I love to make jewelry, that is what I've chosen to do :) Please email us if you have any questions or if you have any suggestions for us! Thank you for stopping by our website!
Click here to read an interview I did for a blog about our family and my jewelry business! :)