Growing Up Among Autism: Autism Speaks
Last Friday Adrienne Kelly opened up in an interview about growing up among autism. Her story was so unique because it’s close to home. Kelly currently lives in Sumter, SC. Yes, she is a local resident. She agreed to tell her story because she really felt like young adults especially, as well as others should get informed about this disease so they are prepared, and know how to handle situations including individuals with this disability. Kelly said that if people were informed they would treat human beings like her son, with respect. She would also like to encourage those who are affected by autism to find something to do. “Whether you are the person or you have a loved one with the disability.” She wants everyone to know that they can achieve!
Adrienne Kelly’s 24-year-old son was diagnosed with autism at the age of one. He was taken to the doctor for a well child visit where he was first diagnosed with cataracts. Doctors informed his mom that cataracts were often seen in older people. He was taken back for more test and doctors eventually told her that he was suffering from autism. They ran multiple test and finally told her that he would never be like a normal child.
Asking Kelly questions was easy, she didn’t mind speaking up about her son. When asked what was it like growing up in the home, she said it wasn’t too hard. She had to treat little Prince the same way she treated her other two children. In a single parent home she spoke about patience and how that was the key to taking care of her baby boy. Prince couldn’t walk on his own until he was about three years old, he wouldn’t speak or try to mumble words that a child that age would normally do. The basic needs at that age were no problem. She had done that stuff with her other children. It wasn’t until he got older when things changed.
Teaching him how to care for his self was challenging. It wasn’t as easy teaching him how to wash. It took time, but he eventually got it. Kelly said being a single parent and not always having someone to look after her son, she had to tech him what to do. She had to work! It took time, but it was doable! She made that clear. She said he knew how to lock and unlock the house door just in case he got home from school and she wasn’t there. He could microwave his food and use the bathroom and all basic things needed to take care of his self until she got home. She mentioned that his autism didn’t stop him from learning how to do things; his learning ability was just slower than the average child.
Kelly was also asked about his personality and what it was like for her son in school. She said, “ My son was always and still is a happy person. He had times when he would act out. Mostly whenever he was around large crowds. He also knew when he was being picked on.” On his way to school one morning another small boy was picking at him. He took his hat and wouldn’t give back. Prince reacted by hitting him.
Prince attended most of his school days in New York City. He was in a class where he was taught individually. It wasn’t until after he got in school that he could talk. He was able to take speech classes and learn sign language. He was separated from other students who didn’t have a disability when it was time for lunch. However, like most people he had rules to follow. He even had daily chores.
Adrienne Kelly made it clear that her son in her eyes was not mentally retarded. She said that’s how his doctors and most people identified him. “ My son is not mentally retarded, he is pretty intelligent. He can have a full conversation with anyone, he may not be able to read, write or ride a bike like most young adults at his age, but he can do great things. Prince received his high school diploma and never missed a day from school. My son can swim, ice skate and knows all about personal hygiene.”
During the interview we discussed many reasons why people should get informed about autism and how to deal with it in the home. When asked if she had any advice for other parents or disabled people suffering from autism she said, “patience is the key, it’s a lot of work, but if I can do it, anyone can.”