Jack was diagnosed with autism at the age of three. It was a sad and devastating time for us, because we knew nothing about this disorder or Jack’s prognosis. It was months before I learned that each case of autism is different, as each child diagnosed suffers varying degrees of the disorder. Some eventually find their voice, experiencing happiness and variable levels of normalcy. I also learned that it was imperative to find specialized therapy and treatment.
When Jack began treatment at the Autism Center of Tupelo, just days shy of his fifth birthday, he didn’t speak a word. He used limited sign language, and had no eye contact or interaction with people or toys. Two weeks into his treatment, I went to pick Jack up from a session when staff member urged me to follow her into the clinic, saying, “Wait. Just wait until you see.” Jack was at his work table with a pegboard — calm and serene with a smile on his face. He was counting the pegs, verbally, one to five.
A week later he said, “Mama” for the first time. To hear his voice, to know that he was in there — listening, learning, and actually with us — was the greatest joy and elation I have ever felt. From that moment on, Jack grew. His vocabulary grew, his cognitive abilities grew, and our understanding and respect for his disorder grew. We finally had hope for his future.
The Autism Center gave us an extraordinary gift, not just his voice, but direction and understanding of a disorder that is often devastating and misunderstood.
They taught us how to be a teacher and a friend.
They taught us how to mourn as well as rejoice, and that it was okay to do both.
They taught us to see autism as a blessing, while still acknowledging that it can feel like a curse.
They taught us to allow Jack to live his life; a life that is now full and rich and beautiful.
– Jonathan and Lisa Martin
*This testimonial was unpaid and unsolicited. This was the experience of one family who does not currently attend the Autism Center and are not a reflection of all families who attend. Individual results may vary.