Aldo & I
(Our Autism Story)
Aldo is a 22 year old young man, handsome, sensitive and caring. He is also on the Autism Spectrum. Aldo was diagnosed in November of 1995. In 1995, the word Autism wasn't on everyone's mind as it is now, there weren't thousands of resources available at the touch of a finger. In order for me to help Aldo I had to do it the old fashion way, visit agencies, attend support group meetings and network with other parents. I had to find and fund my own resources.
The day I received Aldo's diagnosis was the most devastating moment of my life. His Dad and I must have cried the entire day because we feared the world wouldn't love him or embrace his differences. We wondered what would happened to him when we were both gone, "Who would love him, who would take care of him, could he learn at some point to manage on his own?" The doctors' told us that they didn't know if he would learn to talk or read or write. That was all they told us, just "here is a list of therapies he will need" and good bye. But in the end, no one can predict how far any child will go, even if they are disabled. Every child will grow and learn in their own time and in their own speed. Each family and each child is on a journey much like a quest and there are riddles to unlock along the road that will bring us closer to the treasure, one can never give in or give up. When our answer to the riddle doesn't unlock the door we want, we have to go back and rethink our strategy and try something new.
Being Aldo's mom for 22 years, I think back to when he was little and think of a happy little soul who didn't know how to interact in the world around him. It reminded me of being a foreigner in a strange place where no one speaks your language and you don't know the customs. I always engaged Aldo in our world, because this was the world he had to learn to be a part of.
I brought him everywhere even if he had a hard time being there. Aldo had ABA tutors, music therapy, art therapy, occupational therapy, we used biomedical interventions, anti-fungal therapy. The journey took 22 years and we are still traveling and learning. Sometimes I wondered if I was doing the right things by Aldo and I received the answer one night before bed when after a story he turned to me and said, (he was twelve years old) " Mommy do you remember when I was little and I couldn't talk and the teacher came to the house and taught me how to talk and then I started to learn about the world around me." My eyes filled with tears and I told him, "Yes, I remember."
Today, Aldo works part time as a prep cook at the local high school. He attends Community college working on a baking certification. He enjoys playing his clarinet. He is a wonderful artist and enjoys drawing and sculpting. He also has a black belt in tae Kwon Do. A message to all parents and people on the spectrum, never give up and always keep the faith alive.
Sylvia, mother of Aldo
Jersey City, NJ