In the spirit of World Autism Awareness Day, one of our wonderful Rays of Light families submitted this incredible letter about their son and his journey through life with Autism:
Meet Gabe. Gabe turned 8 on March 6th. Gabe has autism. Autism is a social disorder that as of 2012, the CDC reports, affects 1 in every 82 boys born in the US. Most of y’all have met Gabe and will agree that he is the nicest, sweetest 8 yr old one will ever meet. He just doesn’t have a mean bone in his body.
For those that don’t know Gabe personally I wanted to take a moment to introduce him. Monday April 2nd is World Autism Awareness Day and they want everyone to wear blue to bring awareness to autism. I don’t see how wearing a blue shirt is really going to teach anyone anything about autism. It’s a great start but my hope was I would share a little about Gabe with y’all to maybe bring awareness with a more personal touch. If you got this you either know me or somebody who does know me, so maybe by putting a face (Gabe’s face) on autism I can bring real awareness. Thanks for your time.
Gabe enjoys playing with his trucks and trains and loves reading books. He’s especially happy at home or at his grandparent’s home. They are his safe places along with school, which he really enjoys most days too. Autism has made Gabe a little “different” than a typical 8 year old. He has extreme anxiety and fears of loud noises, strange noises, new noises, and especially fire alarms. He overly obsesses about places not having a fire alarm siren go off while there and will only enter a place after you promise him there will not be a fire alarm while there. He has many stims (stimming is usually a physical action that many affected with autism will do repeatedly usually as a coping method). When anxious, nervous, afraid or tired, Gabe’s stims will usually be more pronounced. His stims include running (back and forth, in place, in a circle), verbal stimming (repeating the same phrase or word for minutes to hours at a time), and most recently biting his own hand to the point that it is now scarred and bleeding at times. He can’t control this urge to stim. Sometimes it happens when he’s standing in line at a checkout at the grocery store, for example. There is no warning or inclination of his sensory needs. We have no idea how long he will need to “act” on this desire. Of course we have ways to try to coax him into choosing a more desirable resolution for him to cope with his inner battle but sometimes all the tricks still don’t work.
Gabe is not very talkative and will hardly ever make direct eye contact with you. When he does talk, it more than likely will be in a barely audible whisper. He is extremely intelligent and loves to be challenged at school. He is really good at math, reading, spelling but does have trouble with handwriting and reading comprehension. If you give Gabe a job to do, he will knock it out without instruction faster than you would think imaginable.
I’m not writing about Gabe because I seek any kind of sympathy nor do I desire you think I have been dealt a bad hand. I love every minute I get to spend with my sweet Gabe. He makes you laugh and cry every day. I am so proud of him and he is the love of my life. Many people have things so much worse. I wanted you to meet Gabe because there a lot of “Gabes” out there and not all their parents are as strong as I am. The majority of the time Gabe is having a moment in public, without fail we will receive the meanest glares and stares. Sometimes those are followed by words, “Why don’t you control your child?” type of comments. Very rarely does someone go out of their way to ask if everything is ok or if they can help in any way. I promise if next time you saw a “Gabe” having some issues in public, if you took a second to just ask their parent if they needed any help, it would make their day. So, please think about Gabe next time you see a kid or adult acting “different”, before glaring or making a rude comment, think about what you don’t know about his/her situation. It could be that you’re just seeing one of the “Gabe’s” of the world having a moment.
I thank y’all for taking the time to read this and for being a part of Gabe’s World for a moment. I promise you, even if he doesn’t even know you – Gabe already loves you……
- Bruno Cavazos