Seven years ago the diagnoses on Joseph were devastating, as was the prognosis for his moderately profound autism. Our sole comfort was being told that while he was at the bottom end of the autism spectrum, Joseph was in the top 25% of the bottom end of the spectrum.
That was seven years, and thousands of hours of therapies ago. He is, like the rest of us, a work in progress. Today, he is a bright, articulate, socially-growing boy who seems just a bit quirky.
But this child is also here as a prophet. His life, and how far he has come is actually unremarkable for a child on the autism spectrum.
And that’s remarkable!
Joseph joined the Boy Scouts at the end of last October. Today he attended his first Court of Honor, the ceremony where scouts receive their badges for rank advancement, as well as merit badges.
In the past three months, Joseph has advanced two ranks, earned one merit badge, has three more in progress, is half way to his next rank– Second Class, participated in two service projects, one camping trip, and a Klondike Derby where he spent the entire day pulling a homemade sled with his patrol in freezing rain yesterday and demonstrating his newly-learned skills at designated stations.
Even more remarkably, he has begun to positively critique the leadership skills of patrol leaders.
More remarkable still, he’s not the only special needs boy in the troop, and is treated as one of the guys by the other boys. New friendships are blossoming.
I say that this child is a prophet, because the hunt for the autism genes is on with a vengeance. Nothing good will come of that endeavor. I say that this child is unremarkable as children with autism go because, well, he is. That’s a great sign of hope for parents who may one day receive a prenatal diagnosis of autism.
Greater still is that the other boys quietly, intuitively make the allowances for boys of differing abilities and social skills. These children have grown up with special needs students mainstreamed in their schools. It’s no big deal for them.
And as we move forward, as Joseph continues to grow, it’s less and less a matter of “Not bad for an autistic child,” and more;
“That’s my boy!”