Guest Post: Da Youngsta

 Although I’ve never met Monika Brooks in person, checking out her websites makes me tired…she’s SSOOOO busy!  I refuse to call another mom “supermom”…instead, I will say that she works REALLY hard to address the disparity in Autism Spectrum Diagnoses, and has one of the coolest t-shirts I’ve ever seen (see the end of this post)! 😉  Thanks for sharing your story!

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“Mom, Can I have a Jet Pack?”

 
That is the typical way Kenneth, or who I call Da Youngsta,  says “Good Morning.” He usually starts the day continuing his train of thought from the previous night’s dream. It’s my job to remind him of morning etiquette.

“Good morning?”

“Oh yeah? Good Morning, Mom!” he says as if reading a script, “How was your sleep? A Jet Pack would be a great idea for me because…”

Kenneth was noted as having Aspergers at the age of 4 years old. However, I knew there was something special about him as early at two. He was able to read well at 2 years old and he had the ability to use words in the right context (Like “tepid”) at a very early age.  With all the words he had, he didn’t really use them and felt more comfortable around adults than children.

At his 2nd Birthday party, Kenneth was labeled as “shy” when he didn’t play with any of the 15 children or many adults at Gymboree. Ken, instead played in a corner by himself playing with the same Basketball and hoop for 2 hours. 

I say “noted” because he wasn’t officially diagnosed until last November at age 10. For me, the diagnosis was not as bad as the bureaucracy of resources, His first assessment, performed by the school district, was not only incomplete (I came to find out last year), but left me with many questions. I never heard of “Aspergers.”  I barely heard of “Autism.” The District resources were not helpful. Unfortunately, as a parent I felt like I was on the outside looking in regarding my own son. Nothing was explained until I brought in my own research and began asking questions.  The good thing is that we were Blessed with a great school (after many “lively discussions”)  and a great group of new teachers who not only sat me down but helped create seamless routines that helped us all.  Kenneth was formally diagnosed last year when we switched school districts.  It was at that time that the new resource specialist noticed that a complete assessment was not made.  All I could think of was, ” what would have happened if I wasn’t such a bossy parent and made sure resources were received?” “What would have happened if I was less informed or didn’t know how to FIND the information?”

Anyway at 10, Kenneth is still the same great kid that he has always been, just with what I call a touch of “God’s Extra love.” He loves Star Wars, Legos, and Lego Star Wars (LOL). Reading is what he can’t live without (mostly about Star Wars, do you notice a trend?). He is noticing his “otherness” now. I just tell him that being unique is so much better that being the same…

Oh well,that’s my story..What’s yours?

I can’t wait to meet you all.  But for now, I have to figure out how to talk Da Youngsta out of creating his own Jet Pack because we live on the 2nd floor…

Monika Brooks is a Leadership and Diversity Consultant.  She is the Founder of Great Books for Our Kids and the Mocha Autism Network.  Her goal (besides trying to survive her child in Middle School) is to Address the Disparity in Autism Spectrum Diagnoses.

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