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.
Today’s AUTISM interview is Stanley P. Jaskiewicz, Esq., who with his wife, Judy, are the proud parents of a 19-year-old son with autism, who is now a college student, and an Eagle Scout. As a member in the corporate law department, Stanley P. Jaskiewicz assists and advises privately-held and family-held businesses on a wide range of legal matters, including contracts law, secured lending and negotiated acquisitions, Internet and technology law, corporate governance, intellectual property, regulatory counseling, fine arts law and foreign law. Mr. Jaskiewicz was elected by his peers as a Pennsylvania Super Lawyer for 10 consecutive years, 2006 through 2015, in the practice areas of corporate/securities law, closely held businesses and mergers and acquisitions. He has also received an AV rating by Martindale-Hubbell, which is the highest rating.
A is for Awareness – When and how did you first become aware that something was different?
From a very young age, our son Peter was extremely sensitive to a wide range of stimuli. This was very different from what my wife had observed with our daughter (I first met her at age four, and then married her mother). We also noticed significantly delayed speech, and a strong preference for books and numbers. He began to read spontaneously before he was four years old.
U is for Unique – How has this experience been unique for you and your child?
Our son led both of us in very different directions than we might have imagined, but I think we enjoyed the journey. For example, I am highly allergic to pollens and grasses, yet found myself a Boy Scout leader who accompanied Peter on his early camping trips.
T is for Tools – What tools are there now that were not there in the beginning that could help other parents?
Certainly, the resources available online generally, and specifically the ability to speak to other parents through very specialized LISTSERVs (rather than at “face to face” support groups).
I is for Inspire – As a parent when you look at your child or children what inspires you?
Peter has never given up on his strong desires, both in school and in his interests, despite the challenges he has faced. As I mentioned, he is an Eagle Scout, which forced him to do many things he did not like because of his resistance to change. For example, he had to stay up past his preferred bedtime on Boy Scout camping trips, especially when he did an evening merit badge (astronomy); he also had to eat new foods because he had to eat what was served at camp or on the trip—he sometimes surprised us with what he had tried when he returned from a trip.
S is for Support – Are there things you struggle with or have struggled with and what types of support do you still need?
I think my wife and I will always need to remind each other to strengthen our relationship, so that we can support both of our children (but especially our son) in the challenges that arise, often unexpectedly. For example, Peter was extremely eager to join his graduating class on the annual Disney trip, but then had such anxiety on the night of the trip that we gave him permission to stay home. He was anxious about missing a test at school, not at the travel or staying at a hotel with other classmates; it did not help that he did not really know any of the students on the trip, although he (and we) had expected that students with whom he socialized would be on the trip.
We also have to accept that Peter will fail from time to time, and simply encourage him to “try again.”
M is for Manage – What keys to success can you leave with parents so that they can better manage their day to day efforts?
- Always remember to act first from love (for your children, and spouse), regardless of the stress you may face.
- Remember that you will be married for a long time after your child has become an adult. As I said earlier, always nurture your relationship with your spouse.
Derrick Hayes is an author, motivational speaker, and paraprofessional with students with autism in the Muscogee County School District in Columbus, Georgia. For contact or booking information, please visit his website, email or call him.
This article was featured in Issue 71 – Navigating A New Year