Thank you so much for visiting Austin's fundraising page. We first noticed Austin was different from other babies very early on. Our joy at having a nice easy baby who rarely cried turned to fear as the months passed and he never reached up to be held, or fussed when put down. He had no problems receiving affection, just never really gave it. While other toddlers vroomed their cars all over the place, Austin laid on the floor, turned his car over and spun the wheels. The biggest red flag was his lack of language and communication skills. He didn't speak at all (no Mama or Daddy even) or point out/gesture to what he wanted. At 12 months I expressed my concerns to his Pediatrician and she said we'd keep an eye on it. By 15 months, when there was still no change, we got a referral to Early Intervention. At that time Austin was diagnosed with a developmental delay. Although the therapist did throw out the Autism term a few times, he was still too young to be given that label. We were heartbroken to be officially informed our child had special needs, but at the same time, we were relieved that we could now begin taking steps to get Austin the help he needed. He began getting speech and developmental therapy immediately. By age 2 he could repeat 10 words, but still didn't associate meaning with them. At 2 1/2 he was singing full lyrics to Beatles songs, yet couldn’t answer a simple yes or no question. He could spell Nebraska, but couldn’t ask for a drink of water. Such is the mystery of Autism. Austin was definitely not your typical child. Showing amazing memorization capabilities, by age 4 he knew all the countries of the world and could point them out on a globe! At age 5 1/2, he is attending kindergarten and doing quite well. He divides his time between the mainstream classroom and the multi-categorical room, where he receives specialized education. He also works on his fine motor skills with an occupational therapist and goes to speech therapy 3 times a week. Austin is truly an amazing little boy and we feel so blessed to have witnessed how far he has come, not only in his speech, but his social skills as well!! He is truly a joy! We thank you so much for taking an interest in Austin's story. We would love to have you register as walkers and join Team Hanna on April 30th at Chalco, but if you can’t join us, and still want to support our team, your donation would be very much appreciated! Walk details at autismnebraska.org.
UPDATE 2011! Team Austin is now Team Hanna. Austin was questioning why there was only a Team Austin and why wasn't there a Team Parker? So I suggested we be Team Hanna and he was cool with that! :) Austin repeated kindergarten this year and it has been a huge success! He is in the regular classroom for the entire day and has assistance from a paraprofessional in part of the afternoon to help keep him on task. He still receives speech therapy 3 times a week and occasionally sees an occupational therapist to help with his fine motor skills. The biggest difference I can see this year is his level of engagement with the class! He is not only interacting with the girls, but even has friends that are boys too! Austin is absolutely obssessed with Mario Kart, and loves to kick everyone's butt! He loves to tell me that Gramma and Papa "need more practice". :) His other current obsession is the GPS. He has got to hold it and tell us which way to go, whether it be the 5 minute drive to Gramma's house, or the entire trip to KC we recently took! Unfortunately, he gets a little upset when we take a different route than it tells us to take.