Written by Candace Furman, The Best Ever Advisor for Enhanced Prep
Imagine you are lost. You’re traveling through the woods on your own and your car breaks down; you know it could be days or weeks before anyone stumbles upon you, as you do not have any cell phone service. You hear unsettling noises: the crack of branches, the howling of wolves. All of your senses go into overdrive, the adrenaline coursing through your body, your heart pounding.
I imagine this is what it must feel like to live life with autism spectrum and sensory disorders.
When my son Landon was born, I was sure he was the most beautiful human I had ever met. This baby we had waited years for was absolutely perfect, yet eventually we started to observe little things that were concerning. He couldn’t sleep as a baby, for example, and would cry for hours. I had no idea that he was crying because of the clothing he was wearing and the sensation of being held close.
As Landon grew, he wasn’t crawling, walking, speaking, or potty training on the same timeline his brother had followed. He threw tantrums when we couldn’t understand what he needed and screamed at loud noises. I spent four years of his life sitting in his room at night, waiting in vain for him to sleep. Consequently, I spent four years also without sleep.
I sat in doctor’s offices, begging for practitioners to help my little boy. The doctors suggested we test him for Autism Spectrum Disorder and Sensory Disorder. I had no idea what these terms even meant. All I knew was from an Oprah episode with Jenny Mcarthy, who spoke about her son having Autism Spectrum Disorder. However, I felt confident that once we had a diagnosis, we would be able to help him live close to a normal life.
His first grade year made me rethink that theory.
The school psychologist, Landon’s teacher, and the school principal told me I needed to face the facts: Landon would never live a normal life. He would be wholly dependent on us. He wouldn’t read or write and would never be able to hold down a job. The best we could hope for was teaching him how to care for himself and do the most simple things in life. It was a terrifying reality and I refused to believe that was going to be Landon’s fate.
After 23 meetings with the school and district that year, they agreed to transfer Landon to a school in the district that dealt with highly capable autistic children. This changed Landon’s life and ours. Because of the teachers at his new school, I saw a confident intelligent little boy emerge. He began to speak in full sentences. He gradually learned to read. His teacher worked hard to include Landon in general education classes over time. We felt so blessed that this team of educators refused to give up on our son and his capacities.
Landon is now in 6th grade. He is reading at grade level and writing full paragraphs; science is his favorite subject. Our last IEP meeting consisted of putting a plan together to get Landon college-ready.
I have never been so grateful for educators that believed Landon to be so capable. Now as I prepare for him to enter junior high and then high school, I am so thankful we are a part of the Enhanced Prep family. I am confident the EP team will help enhance those math, reading, and writing skills that will help get Landon through those challenging high school years and beyond.
The anticipation that he will be able to pass the SAT or ACT with the help of Enhanced Prep tutors excites my husband and me. There is hope that, with his school team and the team at Enhanced Prep, Landon will have the same opportunities his brother and sister have had. As parents, we are excited to see what Landon will accomplish in his life!