I have been so shocked at the sentences coming from Mateo the past week. Completely unprompted, independently spoken and spoken so clearly. I turn around and stare at him with my mouth-open because I am in shock. Or I will look around to see if his sister Maya is there or if it’s really coming from him.
I get so excited when he answers a stranger when we are out. He told the waitress Thank you and that he wanted Lemonade the other night and kept making eye-contact with her. As I tell him “Great talking Teo- great eye-contact!” I wonder what the waitress is thinking. I often wonder what people think about Mateo.
I can now spot a kid on the Autistic Spectrum a mile away. The signs seem so clear to me now. We had a yard sale the other day. A young man came up with his Mom. He was very social- started talking to me about Basketball and how he likes the Lakers. He asked me if I had seen all 6 of the Star Wars movies. I knew he was on the spectrum almost immediately. I couldn’t tell if it was Aspbergers or Autism. Mateo ran up and he looked at him. Mateo was running in circles and playing with a toy car. I wondered…did he know? And the young man looks at me and asks- “Who’s this?” He had no interest in anyone else at the yard sale, only Mateo. I told him “That’s Mateo. Mateo has Autism”. I wanted to see if he would tell me he did too. He just said, “Oh”. His mother walked up to me and told me that he had Autism too. He was 20 years old. I wondered, do they leave him by himself, how independent is he, has he had a date? What will Mateo be like at 20?
So I watched him, and I thought here is a kid that didn’t have any of the therapy Mateo is receiving now. No In Home Program every day, maybe just some Speech. And he is chatting away with me now at 20. I have hope, lots of it for Mateo. Each month he is making amazing improvements. And I think what will he be like in 2 years? 5? 10? I wonder but I don’t worry like I used to. He’s extremely smart, he’s very sweet and people are drawn to him.
It’s Autism Awareness month in April. Thanks to my friends and family who have been there with us and show us so much support. Let’s raise the awareness of what Autism is, and how many people are effected by it. They are threatening to cut Pre-School programs that have helped Mateo so much over the past months. They have cut a lot of money to the Regional Center that pays for these services. You can help us to fight to keep the services going- they help to teach our kids in so many ways!