Saturday, January 26, 2008

Conor's Mom + Dad's Blog Diary

Saturday 6:29 am...For Friday, January 25, 2008

When the phone rang after he was put to bed, Conor picked it up, and in response to our friend on the other end asking him how he was, Conor replied...

"I am going to sleep + if I sleep till 7 Mom will be happy + then I can have anything...Bye"...other than his "scripting" (ie, reciting scenes to us from books/videos/tv shows), Conor RARELY if ever puts together a 20 word sentence...other than...

An hour earlier Conor ran into the family room and told Joy + I that "I'm going to see Sesame Street Live with Grover Ready for Action Tickets on February 7th". Apparently, Conor read it in the weekend section of Newsday or the NYT just a moment before!
Conor has both read and spoken beautifully for a few years for speaking though, more so when he was scripting or on what we call a "need basis", e.g., "Can I have popping popcorn please?"

Despite his being on the autism spectrum, Conor has been one of the "lucky ones". Relatively speaking, Conor had already been progressing at a steady pace over the last year, especially since mid-November...soon after he began to attend his 10 boy 2nd grade special ed class at our local elementary school (with his amazing 1:1 Ascent teacher at his side). All of the boys-as well as his teachers and aides-in his class are so special, and we're not referring to whatever special needs the boys may have..."special" refers to what and who they are and what joy, pleasure and at times heartache they-JUST LIKE ALL OF OUR TYPICAL KIDS-bring "to the table" and to their loved ones.

"Special" also refers to those in the special education field, who on a daily basis give our kids a big chunk of their hearts and minds to help those who need it so much...along with the inordinate financial sacrifices many of these teachers make to help those not as fortunate as themselves...luckily for many of them, when they put their head down on the pillow at night, sleep is restful knowing they have made their part of the world a better place.

"Special" also refers to both (a) the "specials"-such as science, music, gym and recess-that Conor's class participates in with the typical 2nd grade classes and (b) the manner in which a number of the typical kids embrace our special boy as only an 8 year old can.

"Special" also refers to the heartwarming actions of those in the local community-whether they are personally touched by a friend or extended family member with autism or just because they are "good people". To friends, family, strangers, business associates, acquaintances, the not-as-large-as-we'd like group of politicians who "get it", the non-profit sector catering to those with special needs and volunteers young and old alike-giving props to the student volunteers of the Ascent Youth Alliance to Battle Autism (AYABA) Program-you know who you are. Your sense of community and passion to make a difference truly impacts the lives of many, and for that we can never thank you enough. If you were here with us now, it would be time for a group hug!

But we have it a random thought or a rant...regardless, it's all good, and aside from a tear or 2 along the way, we feel better for it!

Now, back to a few alleged "coherent thoughts"...

Autism and how to "treat" it is different for each and every child on the spectrum. THERE IS NO ONE ANSWER!!! What has been GREAT for Conor-the ABA Program at the Ascent School for Autism, his (and our) at home after school ABA teacher + Speech therapist, the small army of the older Haber boys and their friends who on a daily basis parade through our house and now the neuro-enhancement program he started only a month ago at the L.I. Spectrum Center has been the right blend of "medicine" for Conor...but it might not be the right package of goods and services for others...nor is it available for most, a thought which saddens us and will be touched upon at a later date.

It is imperative, however, that the "menu" of treatments and educational and socialization programs that parents of children hope to be the "cure" for their child with autism must continue to grow, evolve, expand and become available to all kids on the can't and should not be "autism for the rich" nor should cost be the factor to preclude a child from reaching his or her full potential! Sad that we pen the foregoing rant on the heals of the $9M cut this week to the special ed programs on Long Island.

For the moment, nothwithstanding the many hurdles before him and the occasional steps back he'll take along the way, it appears Conor is on his way to reaching his full potential...whatever that might be! And by the way, although he was awake at 6:15, Conor actually stayed in bed until nearly 7 am...and yes, the first words out of his mouth when he ran downstairs to Dad were..."Can I have something special-I slept until 7 o'clock!"

Our boy is with us, but the battle to get him and others on the spectrum "back" continues!

Peace, Love + Understanding to All From Those At Rants, Raves + Inspirational Thoughts!
Larry & Joy Haber
Parents of Conor Haber, Ascent School for Autism “Graduate & Honor Student”
and Sean, Ryan & Kyle Haber,
Co-Founders and Youth Co-Chairmen of the Ascent Youth Alliance to Battle Autism (AYABA) & 4BOYZ Autographs to Battle Autism
c/o Larry Haber, Partner, Colgate Real Estate Advisors 6800 Jericho Turnpike-Suite 216E, Syosset, New York 11791 516.762.3117 (fax) 516.921.3433 ;
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