When I was initially told in September 1997 that my three-year-old son Paul had autism, pictures of him sitting in the corner of an institution, rocking back and forth, flashed through my mind. After a week of crying, I found Judy Smith, a wonderful speech and language therapist. She made me believe that Paul could and would be helped.
Within a few months, Paul was responding to Judy’s basic commands such as “more” when he wanted her to blow more bubbles. She forced him to look at her when he talked, although he wanted nothing more than to look away.
In 1998, we added to Paul’s support staff Stacey, a loving childcare worker. Paul’s psychiatrist recommended that Stacey use Catherine Maurice’s excellent manual on Applied Behavioural Analysis. I was so impressed with the manual that I wanted to know more about Maurice. I bought “Let Me Hear Your Voice,” her story about bringing her two autistic children out of their darkness, and she encouraged me to not give up.
By the age of five, Paul was “normal” in a lot of ways and above-average in reading and mathematics. We had been through so much, I felt I had to write it all down, as Maurice had. I could barely see through my tears as I typed away at my computer, reliving the terror and darkness of the preceding two years. Nothing short of a strong faith could have helped me survive the ordeal, so I sent my completed story off to a Sunday School periodical. It was accepted.
The $100 paycheck was nothing compared to the cathartic experience of putting my heartache and triumph down on paper. Now, when I face what may seem to be insurmountable difficulties, I pull out my first story and remember there is no such thing.
Jayne Thurber-Smith lives and writes in Niagara Falls, where she spends her free time jogging, playing the piano and challenging her husband to tennis. She also enjoys watching her four children play their sports and instruments of choice.