I am in the women's change room at the local pool, lost in thought. I'm thinking about a lot of things, but mostly that it's neat to be back, twelve years later, to where the gang took swimming lessons as children.

I think of Erik and how we struggled through level one swimming lessons three times. And I think of him now, 19, game to work out in the gym and then transition to the pool, do laps and head to the hot tub. It's all seamless now. It was painful and lurching back then.

 

Read more: SNAPSHOT: "Eight Crane Toilets"

 

This article first appeared in Autism Matters in the Fall 2017 Issue.

Click the following link to view the article: Hedley article PDFv2.pdf

 

About the Author:

Teresa is a teacher, writer and autism advocate, but first and foremost, she is mother to Erik (18), a young man on the autism spectrum. For the past four years, Teresa and Erik have been writing a mother-son autism article series for Autism Ontario's Autism Matters magazine. The articles are written from both Teresa and Erik's perspectives and offer strategies for building resilience in those with autism and in those supporting autism. Erik and Teresa also create autism advocacy videos under the channel name, "AutismShoeViews". Teresa is working on a handful of autism curriculum projects, as well. Their current mother-son collaboration involves designing a tailor-made transition for Erik from high school co-op work experience to college student. Their working motto for 2017? "I can and I will!”

We are excited to announce that Integrated Autism Consulting will now provide diagnostic evaluations for adolescents and adults who are thought to have an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) but have not yet received a diagnosis or who require an updated evaluation for transition services in Ontario. Evaluations typically last several hours over the course of two appointments (varies depending upon complexity of case and services provided) and focus on issues of diagnosis and transition planning, educational programming, and intervention.

The evaluation includes caregiver interview; review of medical, social, language, academic, and developmenta history; caregiver questionnaires, and testing sessions with the individual. The individual is directly assessed using state of the art, empirically based assessment instruments including the Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule (ADOS) and The Childhood Autism Rating Scale - 2nd edition (CARS2). Results of the evaluation are shared with the parents and individuals, when appropriate, during an interpretive conference. An individualized, written evaluation summary with comprehensive recommendations and resources is shared with the family.

Read more: New Services September 2017

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"He has the ability to make the ordinary extraordinary," I remember thinking. We just need to tune into him and to go with these inclinations, these impulses, these intense curiosities. _____________________________________________________________________________________

"Where do these streets go? What's down there? And over there? Who lives there?"

Seven-year-old Erik has a map of the Comox Valley in his hands, and he is both mesmerized and perplexed.

"Oh, I'm not sure," I reply. "I've never been down those roads. I don't know what's there."

The look he gives me makes me smile now, in hindsight. It is something akin to disbelief and disappointment in one moment, and excitement and possibility in the next. A plan is brewing, and I am about to become a part of it. I wait.

"So," he begins, lingering over the word, working out what he wants to say, "you grew up here and you don't even know? You don't know what's on these roads? You haven't even looked? Don't you want to find out?" The words and thoughts tumble out. Again, incredulous.

Again, autism.

I had never thought of it that way. I go where I need to go. I had never felt the need to plot out and explore the entire town, side roads, dead ends and all. Never. I suddenly feel quite bland, lacking an adventurous gene, certainly low on the curiosity scale.

Read more: ASD SNAPSHOT 7: THE PATH LESS TRAVELLED