Jessica & Jackson
"I’m Jessie & I’m an illustrator & Autism Advocate.
To be frank, my husband saw signs of something different with Jackson before I did. Around 15 months, Matt took Jackson on an errand & got his truck stuck out in the woods. It was at that time that he realized Jackson didn’t even realize what was happening, that Matt didn’t have to distract him or try to explain they were stuck out there for a few hours. When I took J in for his 18 month wellness visit, the Pediatrician told me Jackson was “severely behind” in verbal communication because he had not developed words yet. We then moved across the country & got Jackson evaluated by the state of SC where he received an At Risk diagnosis at 20 months old & a full Autism Spectrum Disorder diagnosis with SPD by 22 months.
The hardest part is Jackson’s lack of verbal communication. While he’s definitely improved over this last year, it’s still not fluid. We are so eternally grateful that he now does have some words though! However, having a nonverbal child is very difficult & frustrating. It’s hard to help them & get them what they want. At the same time, the biggest blessing of having a child on the spectrum is being able to see the world in a different sense. In everything we do, we have to take into account possible triggers for Jackson, to always have things available that he needs to be ok. Because of his SPD (sensory processing disorder), he requires space to jump & run around in. His stemming actions bring him a sense of peace that steady breathing does for most. It’s just a very humbling experience to care for someone that sees everyday things as sensory overloads. Jackson is pure light & I will do anything in my power to keep his light bright.
By far, the most helpful thing to me has been social media. It’s connected me with such a larger range of parents of children on the spectrum, as well as Autistic Adults. I genuinely enjoy reading & learning through other peoples experiences. Getting the opportunity to meet so many different kinds of families is such an opportunity I’m glad I have. My husband definitely thrives from research & science. He will listen to all the podcasts & read all the self-help books so he is armed with science & reason, where I counter with personal experiences.
My advice to parents of children on the spectrum is to continue loving your child. That your child is not broken. That your child deserves all things great in this world regardless of their disabilities. While the spectrum is very large, a diagnosis is not a death sentence. Be open with your fears & concerns for your child, then hit the ground running. Just remember: your babe doesn’t need to be fixed. Meet them where they are & love them as much as you can."
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