Nathan was the most unbelievingly easy going baby. I would put him in his stroller and take him out with me. He would just go along for the ride without a care in the world.
When Nathan was 18 months old, I became concerned because he had not started walking. Having two children before Nathan, I knew he should be walking at this age and realized something was wrong. I took Nathan to see the pediatrician. The doctor started asking me questions that had nothing to do with walking and I realized he knew something I didn’t. He hinted that he thought Nathan might have PDD-NOS (Pervasive Development Disorder, not otherwise specified). I didn’t have any idea what that was, so I raced home and started calling family and friends. A friend who has a son with autism told me that PDD-NOS is a form of autism.
The first night following the news, I sat by Nathan’s crib and cried because I didn’t know what this meant for my son. After going through a wave of emotions, I made a decision that has since shaped the way I handle Nathan and autism. His future and what happens to him from this point on depends on what I do right now. I have to be the advocate for my son.
I knew about Fraser and the great autism services. However living in Anoka and driving to Minneapolis every day, while raising two other children and juggling a full-time job, was not something I could do at the time. So I found services for Nathan closer to home. Then one day, I received good news that Fraser was opening a clinic in Anoka. I was ecstatic and signed up right away.
Fraser helps Nathan build core life and social skills. Melissa Wills helps Nathan work on skills training and navigating unwritten social rules, understanding teamwork, coping skills, and building his confidence. He also meets with Jessica Page and Melissa in group therapy where he works on friendships. Building and maintaining friendships is something Nathan strives for. I know how hard he works in therapy because I see him apply the skills in daily life. For example, I’ve seen him calm himself when a situation gets too stressful. He was never able to do that before Fraser.
The people at Fraser have been a wonderful addition to Nathan’s life and have helped set him up to succeed. With middle school fast approaching, I know that Nathan will face more challenges down the road. However, I worry about this less because I know the skills Nathan has learned at Fraser will be something he continues to work on as he grows up. With his hard-working attitude, good sense of humor and support team at Fraser, he grows and develops every day.
Often, days go by that I don’t even think about autism. I see Nathan as my 10-year-old energetic son who just happens to learn differently than most people. Nathan has not only taught me to be a better parent but how to be a better person.
- Nathan's mother