One of the greatest aspects of my “job” is getting to know people. Not a single day goes by that I don’t learn something new about someone, the struggles that they have had, the joys, the happy times and the times when the tears flowed. A few weeks ago when we introduced our Autism Awareness Run to benefit Autism Speaks, I was absolutely overwhelmed with the numbers of people who sent me emails telling me their story about their life and coping with an Autistic child. Again, the joys and the tears.
One such story is here and I have asked if I could share it with anyone who wanted to read it. Here is the story of Conner and his mom.
Connor, my little Bubbie, my Autism Warrior. Words are babble talk and his world is lonely and sad within his own mind. I wrote this haiku in my college creative writing class. It reminds me of my son and how he sees the world. Connor James Hale was born December 15, 2003. From the first time I set my eyes on him, there was something special about my little Bubbie: Connor is an Autism warrior. I was in my first semester of my Associate’s degree for Fashion Merchandising when I gave birth to my fourth child. Connor was born on a Monday and two days later I took my final exams. I got two early Christmas presents that year, a beautiful little boy and I made Dean’s List. Connor was such an easygoing baby. He slept through the night and didn’t fuss a lot. He was always happy, but he would never look at your face. I would hold him up to me and he would always turn his eyes away. I guess back then I didn’t anything of it. One of the scariest moments of my life happened days before Connor had his first birthday. All of my children were put to bed and my kids’ father and I were sitting in the living room when a strange feeling came over me. I ran to Connor’s room and he wasn’t breathing. I pulled him from his crib and he was turning blue. He was having his first epileptic seizure. Then until he was about four years old he would have these types of seizures that would scare the life out of me. The real fun and trials began when Connor began being mobile.
As soon as he knew what he could do with his legs, he was off and running and climbing. He loved to climb everything. I couldn’t keep anything on my walls because he would climb like a monkey and knock everything down. As he grew, I knew he wasn’t meeting milestones that he should have been reaching. He had his own “language”. It was more like babble when you listened to him. He didn’t start speaking words until was about five or six. Kayla, my oldest, taught him how to write his name. He also had a problem with smearing and he absolutely hated wearing his clothes. You turn your head a quick second, and he was naked and he loved it. He’d jump up and down, smile and laugh. He was also an escape artist. If you didn’t keep an eye on him he would find his way outside and run like the wind. He would probably be classified as a “wanderer”. I remember one afternoon; Connor climbed out one of the bedroom windows, naked, and ran down the street to the school park. I ran after him barefoot and I could barely keep up with him. Connor also has no fear and a high pain tolerance. That’s why he would run and not realize that he was putting himself in danger. Through all this, Connor was a happy boy. Connor is 9 now and he has been living at a group home, the St. Louis Center in Chelsea, Michigan. A year ago, Connor and his siblings Kayla, Cassie, and Andy, we’re placed in foster care with their grandmother.
She could not care for Connor so the St. Louis Center has become his home. He has grown so much in the time that he has been living there. He no longer smears and he stays dressed for the most part. I don’t know what the future will bring for my son but I know I will fight for him and keep him in my life.