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.
Sabrina Thomas is a mother, author, speaker, and parent advocate for autism and special needs families. Her mission is to empower, educate, and encourage parents and caregivers of children with autism and disabilities to give their child a life full of joy, fulfillment, and love. She believes that, although every individual’s struggles will be different, together people can conquer obstacles along the way. For more information about Sabrina, visit her website at www.sabrinatspeaks.com.
A is for Awareness—When and how did you first become aware something was different?
I realized something was different when my son started stimming. At the time I did not know it was stimming. I was not sure what it was. I just knew it was something I had never seen him do before and it started occurring on a regular basis. I googled a few things he was doing and autism kept coming up, so I requested an appointment to get him tested.
U is for Unique—How has this experience been unique for you and your child?
Well, my son’s experience is unique because it is his experience. His behaviors, no matter what they are and when they are, cannot be duplicated. It has been unique for me because this autism journey was new for me; before my son’s diagnosis, I didn’t know anything about autism.
T is for Tools—What tools are there now that were not there in the beginning that could help other parents?
I believe there are a lot more resources, webinars, and live conferences than there were when my son was first diagnosed. Social media has grown and changed since my son received his diagnosis. Also, there are a lot more services, autism groups, and activities for autism children and adults that weren’t available ten years ago.
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I is for Inspire—As a parent, when you look at your child or children, what inspires you?
My son’s strength inspires me. My son internally goes through a lot on a day to day basis. However, he is such a happy young man and his smile lights up a room.
S is for Support—Are there things you struggle with or have struggled with and what types of support do you still need?
My son is mostly non-verbal. My biggest struggle is when he does not feel well, as it is hard for me to figure out what is wrong. Normally, I just watch his behavior and feel different parts of his body as I watch his reaction. If it is bad, he will normally point to the area, though most of the time I get a blank stare. That is hard. As parents we do not want our children to be in pain, and when they are, we just want to fix it. As for support, he has all the support he currently needs. I always made sure he had the appropriate services in and outside of school.
M is for Manage—What keys to success can you leave with parents so that they can better manage their day to day efforts?
- Stay positive
- Try to get on a steady routine
- Get educated on autism and do your research as well. Knowledge is power!
- Connect with other parents with autistic children
- Do not compare; every person on the spectrum is unique
Self-care is so important; your child needs you, so it is important we as parents make sure we are emotionally and physically in a good space.
This article was featured in Issue 113 – Transitioning to Adulthood