I was facing the glass door where “Little Man” will enter the room.This is a moment I always look forward to because as soon as his intense little roving eyes spot me, he displays a smile that simply melts me. Little Man is eight years old. He is Autistic, and I am his personal assistant. He is quite small for his age, and has been handed a very difficult journey in this life. I call him “Little Man” because of his ability to handle his many disabilities.
His parents are amazing! They noticed very early that their second child was not reacting to this world with the same ease as their first child. His ability to speak, his coordination, and physical development were not appropriate for his age. He seemed unable to reach the milestones that other babies his age seemed to easily grasp. They described it as him being lost somewhere in between two worlds. They immediately sought help at a prominent children’s hospital. Parents who have children with special needs are not only faced with their particular needs, but are overwhelmed with extraordinary cost of getting their children help.
Even though great accomplishments in the treatment of Autism have been made, it is an extremely complicated diagnosis. The spectrum for Autism is vast, and each child has very specific needs. Many share similar issues. The sooner a child is able to receive therapy the better their chances are at learning techniques to improve the quality of their lives. Early diagnosis can also help parents with the ever rising costs involved with therapy.
My time with “Little Man” can be bitter sweet for me. I have a brother who is also Autistic. Unfortunately he was born at a time when very little was known about Autism. He like so many others was viewed as an odd child. He was very misunderstood. The emotional scars are deep, and his life was severely altered simply by being born at the wrong time. This is the bitter part for me. The sweet part is seeing that there is a growing awareness of Autism. We have a long way to go in this field but amazing accomplishments are being made.
I have been given the extraordinary opportunity to see this progression. A front row seat to Little Man’s journey. It has in many ways helped me to overcome the scars I share from witnessing the treatment of my brother. Little Man and I have developed a bond that I lack the talent to fully explain. I will tell you this though, I fully understand that this Little Man’s purpose in life is to change the lives of everyone he comes in contact with in the very best way.