Baumhower: The celebration of 1 in 88Written by Jeremy Baumhower | | firstname.lastname@example.org
I knew he was different. I could see it in his eyes, in the way he looked at things. I could see it in the way he played and by his inability to communicate with us verbally. My son was not like any other child I had seen before.
My son was and is still obsessive. He would play with very specific things in a very specific way and in a very repetitive manner. At around 2 years old his favorite toy was the vacuum cleaner, not because of the noise it generated but because of its power cord. He was just as interested in the AV cords that connected the TV with the cable box on the back of the set as he was with watching “Thomas the Tank Engine” on the front.
He would run, hop or skip in a circle for extended periods of time as a way to calm himself. The most troubling thing we witnessed was how he reacted to discipline and being told that he wasn’t allowed to do something. It was a constant test. If we kept everything status quo then everything with him was status quo. If we tried to change even the slightest of routines or attempt a new food, all hell would break loose. He could be inconsolable.
For almost three years I thought and hoped my son would grow out of whatever was making him different, that he would become a “normal” boy, whatever that was. He never did. Looking back 10 years, I cannot imagine him being anyone other than who he is and I wouldn’t have it any other way. I am blessed to see his gift for what it is, not for the stigmas that can be associated with it.
The only thing I knew about my son’s diagnosis was what I had seen in the movie “Rain Man.”But Dustin Hoffman’s character was nothing like my son. It was confusing. I have since educated myself and choose to see these six letters differently.
I refuse to label my son with a word that sounds like an affliction, because it is anything but. This does affect 1 in 88 children and 1 in 54 boys. The word itself represents a diagnosis I believe is often misunderstood. I choose to see the beauty in the way these kids see things. My son’s brain is a gift — not a disorder.
One of these children is going to change the world because they didn’t allow emotion into the thought process or they will see something we all have missed.
The first course of action after a diagnosis was putting my son in a 30-day extensive intervention program. He had just turned 4 years old. Following this month-long course was one of the first times where I saw progress and felt a connection to my son.
This is where Project iAm makes an impact in Northwest Ohio.
Project iAm is for families like mine. The organization raises monies to help offset the cost of therapy and intervention programs for families dealing with these gifted children. All the monies raised stay here in Northwest Ohio and help local families.
One of the things that instantly drew me to Project iAm is how they incorporate music. Bands like The Killers, Green Day and Imagine Dragons have been used by my son as a calming mechanism ever since he was able to walk and hop in a circle. I have no understanding why but it’s been a miraculous tool.
Project iAm’s Acoustics for Autism happens March 9 at the Village Idiot in Maumee. It’s not just a fundraiser but rather a celebration for families with gifted children like mine. It is one of my favorite days of the year because the Village Idiot is packed like St. Patrick’s Day. The music performed is inspired, cold drinks are plenty and the atmosphere is so full of love it swells your heart.
Something magical happens in Maumee during Acoustics for Autism. The faces of those who attend hurt from smiling, our voices are strained from the constant singalongs, our feet ache from the dancing and our wallets are emptied but no one ever complains.
It has evolved into something more than an event. It’s a happening, it’s a moment. It’s beautiful.
Come and join me and experience the peace, love and understanding of Project iAm and our community. The money this day raises will help future families, possibly even yours.
It’s for the kids, man.
For more information, please visit www.aboutprojectiam.com.
Find Jeremy Baumhower on Facebook or Twitter @jeremytheproduc.