An Exclusive Look at AUTISM With Satira Brozek
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 with Lisa Satira Brozek, who is an autism parent and writer of “Differently Abled Man,” a song meant to help bring awareness to autism. For more information on her latest project please go to https://www.bandtogetherpgh.org/.
A is for Awareness
When and how did you first become aware that something was different?
I first noticed something wasn’t quite right when my son, Christopher, began saying simple phrases at 18 months, but lost them by the time he was two. We also became concerned about his hearing.
If his back was to you, and you called his name or clapped loudly, he wouldn’t respond. I also noticed he played on his own a lot, wouldn’t make eye contact, and didn’t interact with other toddlers at playgroups.
U is for Unique
How has this experience been Unique for you and your children?
For me, having a child with autism has challenged me to find different ways to help him grow and develop. He did not behave or learn the way his older “typical” sister did. I needed to be more patient and understand the way he would process information, hear things, see things, taste and feel in his world. Every day is unique to what is going on that day.
For Christopher, he is challenged on a daily basis, from being out in the community where there are loud noises and visual stimulation or something as simple as an interruption in his home routine. Each day is a unique learning experience because he is a unique individual.
T is for Tools
What tools are there now that were not there in the beginning that could help other parents?
There is more access to ABA therapy and children are being diagnosed earlier. There is definitely more awareness and inclusion today compared to 25 years ago when Christopher was diagnosed at three years old. Today you can take your child to autism friendly events, special theater performances, or places where they have a sensory room in case your child is having a meltdown. We didn’t have that when Chris was growing up, which made it difficult to go places, especially for his sister.
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I is for Inspire
As a parent, when you look at your child or children what inspires you?
When I look at Christopher, he inspires me every day to be more like him. He is kind, gentle, and an amazing drummer who brings joy to whoever he meets. He inspires me to be the best mom and human being I can be. He was the inspiration for the song I wrote and recently had recorded called “Differently Abled Man.”
S is for Support
Are there things you struggle with or have struggled with and what types of support do you still need?
When Chris was younger, I felt we needed more support groups; I felt very isolated at times. I did struggle with this and it would have been nice to have other parents to talk to who were in the same situation. It has really changed over the years and now I see parents who are willing to help and support each other.
I would like to see businesses doing more to support our differently abled adults and give them the opportunity to be employed. They possess many valuable qualities and just need to be given a chance to prove their worth.
M is for Manage
What keys to success can you leave with parents so that they can better manage their day to day efforts?
Don’t be afraid to ask for help from family or friends. You also need to take time to take care of you, so you can be a good parent to your child. Just know you are doing the best you can, so don’t be so hard on yourself. Get your child involved in whatever seems to spark his/her interest, or in something he/she has never been exposed to before. You never know what amazing talent may shine through.
This article was featured in Issue 100 – Best Tools And Strategies For Autism