Encouragement Speaker Derrick Hayes gives an AUTISM interview by asking six questions through each letter in the word AUTISM to give readers an insightful perspective from parents, experts, entrepreneurs, and other leaders in the field.
Ava Hart was born into a family of singers and performers and has been singing since the age of 12. She has taught music, and for the past 14 years has worked as a vocal coach and instructor to academics, dance studios, and theaters. She is the mother of a young child with autism and this is the basis of her song, Mothers Day—The Mother’s Tale. For additional information about the song and Ava, go to https://www.davidarn.com/.
A is for Awareness. When and how did you first become aware something was different?
Maybe it was my ignorance, since this was my first child, but I didn’t really notice anything. Friends would make comments about lack of eye contact or “Why isn’t he talking yet?” It was finally our pediatrician who pointed out he was missing big milestones. He was sent for many assessments, while I was still in denial.
U is for Unique. How has this experience been unique for you and your child?
I had many opinions on parenting before I had kids. I would look at a child misbehaving and think I would never allow my child to act like that. I knew nothing really. I have learned what works for one child doesn’t work for every child. We have seen growth over the years, with therapy, but our experience looks different than the next person’s. Each child is unique and you have to find, and keep finding, new ways to work with him/her.
T is for Tools. What tools are there now that were not there in the beginning that could help other parents?
Support groups — find other parents who have walked this road already. You will gain friendship, support, education, and even a shoulder to cry on.
Click here to find out more
I is for Inspire. As a parent, when you look at your child or children, what inspires you?
I celebrate everything with my son. It has been a long road to get where we are now and we are still learning. Many may see his growth as slow or behind, but being his parent, I know what huge strides it took to achieve each new milestone.
S is for Support. Are there things you struggle with or have struggled with and what types of support do you still need?
I still struggle with wanting him to be accepted by everyone. Kids can see the differences and can be cruel. Inclusion education for children is progressing, but I wish there was more.
M is for Manage. What keys to success can you leave with parents so they can better manage their day to day efforts?
Take a breath. Every day may be different. You may have great days or days where you just need to cry. Sometimes people, trying to be helpful, will say things that upset you. Try to remember you know your child better than anyone else — you are his/her advocate. Speak up when your child can’t and don’t let the opinions of others get the best of you. You’re doing great!
This article was featured in Issue 118 – Reframing Education in the New Normal