April Blog: April is Autism Awareness Month
What is autism?
Autism is a developmental disability, and is very complex. It affects a person's ability to communicate and interact with others. Autism is a "spectrum condition" and affects each individual uniquely.
Autism is diagnosed in about 1 in every 59 births, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Aptiv serves many people with autism, who are some of these participants? And also, some of our staff have children with autism, what are some of their experiences?
Who are some of our participants who have autism?
Hunter is new to Janesville Day Services, becoming a participant in February 2019.
He is working on using appropriate social skills while he is out in the community. In the community he loves to go to the park, shop, and go to the movies.
But in his free time he loves to make videos, play Jurassic World, listen to music and watch movies.
Hunter says an achievement he is most proud of is acting in a play and singing at the concert.
People say he is a good person, and that he laughs a lot and can make people laugh a lot.
Adrian loves a variety of things, such as video games, sports statistics, coming up with stories, reading about places that are far away, thinking up Halloween costume ideas, and going to parks.
He is 34 years old, and is in Day Services and Prevocational Training in Janesville. He has been an Aptiv participant since 2006! He is learning important job skills, social skills, and following a schedule independently.
Adrian is super good at NASCAR and college basketball stats.
Who are some of our staff who have children with autism?
Leslie Krenzel and son Jason
"Even though a child may look or act differently than others, they truly aren't. Children with autism can do about everything as other children, you just have to be patient with them and find other ways to do the exact same thing because in the end it will all be worth it." - Leslie
Leslie is a Day Services associate in Janesville. She has a son named Jason, who has autism. He is eight years old. Jason is a shy boy, according to Leslie. But once he meets new people and gets used to them, he will talk about two things he loves, hockey and trucks. He has a huge passion for hockey, decorating his room with broken hockey sticks he has collected from the Janesville Jets players and his closet holds team apparel.
Jason doesn't like crayons, markers, or paint, but found an alternative way to be creative. He plays the app "Happy Color" on his tablet, which he colors by numbers. When he is done, Leslie prints off his page and he hangs it up in his bedroom.
Leslie loves to see Jason get excited over things he did a good job with, for example, this year he joined hockey. When he completed the entire season, he receieved a certificate.
"His face lit up so bright that it could light up the whole room," Leslie said. "Which made my heart melt."
Leslie is always open to answering any questions people have about being a parent of a child with autism, or about Jason himself. She likes to make sure people stay informed.
Hasmig Tempesta and son Zachary
"'Dear Zachary, It is the day before Christmas and I am just waiting for you to decide to be born. I heard someone say once that children choose their mothers. I used to think things like that were silly, but something has changed in me. I can’t help but feel that I was destined to be your mother and you my son.' This is the start of a journal entry that I wrote to Zachary before he was born. I did not know the full meaning of those words or that feeling, but I soon would.
Zachary was diagnosed with autism when he was 22 months old, although I knew months before. It was a relief hearing a professional say those words, 'his development can only be characterized as autistic.' Of course, I didn’t want this for my son — that was not the dream, but I wanted him to get help and I desperately needed someone to believe me.
Zachary was very severely affected. He lost language, skills and his connection to the world. Through six years of in-home ABA therapy, speech therapy, occupational therapy, and a special school he made great strides.
He uses an iPad to communicate, is learning new skills, starting to connect with people in different ways and is incredibly loving. I am thankful every day for the people who started out as strangers and through their quest to love, teach and accept Zachary became our family.
When I think about that day in 2003 before Zachary was born, I think about the boy I wanted my son to be. I wanted him to be kind, smart, curious and full of joy.
That is the boy I was destined to be the mother of and that is the boy who sits before me now. I thank him for my beautiful life."