In July 2006, our son Samuel was born. Not having much experience with children, we thought he was fine at first, but as he grew into toddlerhood, it became more and more obvious that Sam was not at the same level of learning as others his age. By 2009 he was diagnosed with Level 1 Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), the least affected of 7 levels of the disorder.
In 2010, Sam was accepted into the Hebert Centre for specialized learning in Dieppe, New Brunswick. The Centre helped Sam learn what are the basics for us. Then in 2011, Sam started kindergarten and wow the reports that we were receiving were outstanding, he has been growing and learning ever since.
Social aspects like hugging and playing with other kids do not come naturally to Sam; we had to teach him these behaviours through repetition and still have to ask sometimes.
Sam is a pretty typical kid in a lot of ways. He likes school, but doesn’t like homework. His favourite things to do are drawing and playing games on his tablet. He has a select number of friends that he plays with. Sam’s senses are much stronger than the typical child’s and he is especially sensitive to sound. He loves crunchy foods.
He is super creative and thrives in routine; it took weeks for him to be comfortable participating in music class at school, but everyone who knows him understands that Sam needs to accept change on his terms.
Sam is progressing well in school. He is great at solving math problem. His Teacher’s Aide explains the problem visually and within 15 seconds or less, he gets it. He’s so good at it that other students in his class look to him to show them how to figure it out. He can also finish a puzzle in the blink of an eye and run like a flash of lightning.
But I’m most amazed by Sam’s growing artistic ability. What started out as me drawing the head of an animal for him to finish when he was sick on day has turned into collaborative art [insert link to collaboration gallery] and I can see how much he has improved in just a short time.
Soon after Sam was diagnosed, I found a way to combine my love for him with my love of art to help his cause — I donate 10% of all my profits to Autism Canada — and organization I firmly believe in. [insert link to Autism Canada] Sam is very proud of the fact that he is creating art that people want to buy and that some of the proceeds go to help kids like him be who they are meant to be.
Some people might consider having a child with autism a challenge, but my wife Diane and I see it as a blessing. We are the lucky ones. Most parents don’t get to experience small miracles every day like we do.