The Fernandez Family Story
Alex and Jrawin have four young boys, and all have been diagnosed with autism. For people who haven’t met them, some might guess that life for the this family must be extremely difficult, that raising four boys with autism must be overwhelming. Meeting them, however, gives an entirely different impression.
“We got over that hump awhile ago,” Jrawin said about the grieving or self-pity she and Alex may have felt about their boys’ autism. “It’s not their fault they have autism. We can’t project any fears or misgivings we might have on them.” Alex and Jrawin are extremely optimistic about the futures of Joshua (6), twins Elijah and Seth (4), and Laurent (2). “We play to their strengths. We want them to feel like they’re part of the puzzle, not an addendum to society.”
Fraser is helping them do that. Elijah and Seth, who their parents call “The Buddies,” started with Fraser Autism Home Service, which provides therapy for children with autism in their own homes. All four boys have had early intervention autism and rehabilitation services to improve their socialization and communication skills. Elijah, Seth and Laurent are all currently in Fraser autism day treatment.
“Joshua didn’t speak until he was 3. By the time he was 3 ½, we discovered he could already read,” Jrawin said. “I had lots of fears at first. But I went from thinking he would be institutionalized to thoughts of scholarships.”
Joshua is now in kindergarten. Academically, he is off the charts, but he’s trying to get better at interacting with his classmates, not just knowing things about them. To help him, Joshua has skills training and a friendship group at Fraser. “He’s made so much progress, it’s incredible,” Alex said.
After observing their younger boys in a session at Fraser Autism Day Treatment, and seeing their great progress in person, Alex and Jrawin have pushed the boys to do more for themselves at home. “Kids take cues from their parents,” Jrawin said. “They need self-confidence, they want to feel valued, and they need to be productive. That starts at home.”
Alex, Jrawin and Fraser are clearly partners in making the boys successful. “Fraser does a good job communicating with us as parents so we’re reinforcing the same principles,” Alex said. “The staff people have been amazing. There are certain staff members who seem to be custom-made for our boys.”
“We’re always strategizing, always challenging them, always trying to stay one step ahead of them. We laugh and it’s fun.”