e-Newsletter | Meet Andrew L.

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Meet Andrew L.

by Annalee L., Andrew’s mom:

AJ was late at being diagnosed.   His school refused to intervene saying “he’s too smart.  He’s a smart cookie.  His IQ is very high”.  I knew from early on he has some uniqueness to him. I didn’t need a “label” I needed help for my child in social situations, fine motor activities, co-ordination, organization, staying on task, emotional regulation.  They told me he was just too smart and was bored. Yes, that may have been the case but they were ignoring my gut feeling and signs my son was exhibiting. I finally took him out of that school and enrolled him in another where they saw what I saw and wanted to help. It was at this time I tried and tried to get him into a psychiatric Dr. to get him diagnosed and medicated.  It was going to be a 2 year wait.  Then my mom passed away and Andrew went suicidal. He was very much a black and white thinker in the box and very literal. People were talking about how great heaven was and he thought cool I’ll be with grandma and get to play video games all day long and have no rules.  With a lot of interventions from home, social worker, pediatric Dr. and school we got him on a better path.  It also streamlined us into a psychologist who then finally assessed him and diagnosed Autism (along with a few other things). From there we registered with Autism Services and he started on social groups online. Eventually, Covid protocols allowed in person meetings and he joined a behavioral group as well.  Secret Agent society and Minecraft groups through Autism Services helped him with so many skills.  He has grown so much in all areas.  It was then that we got word he was eligible for funding through the province and we had 1 year to do as much work as we could before he turned 12 and lost funding. We enrolled him in Private Occupational Therapy and in 12 weeks he was excelling at so many things!!!  He could tie his shoes for the first time, could write legibly on paper using specialized paper and pencils, he could problem solve, he went out of his comfort zone with no meltdowns.  It was fabulous. Last year he was in grade 7 and the school staff are amazed at how far he has come in 3 years.  He went from throwing desks, crying, having accidents, screaming and refusing to do work to a guy who has friends, shares, co-operates, independently works and has self confidence in himself. I truly feel if we hadn’t gotten the diagnosis and hadn’t had these specialized groups and workers he wouldn’t be in the great space he is today. Does he still have meltdowns and get frustrated absolutely. Does he still have his ticks and comfort tools absolutely. He knows he’s unique but that doesn’t make him any less of a person.  Without Jessica at Autism Services and Jessica at OT and the amazing support system of Drs, social workers, school staff and family he wouldn’t be where he is today.  And if it wasn’t for specialized programs and occupational therapy he’d still be struggling a lot. The funding we got for 1 year at age 11.5 did wonders. I can only imagine if he was diagnosed earlier what support systems would have been in place to help him before he became so frustrated, depressed and suicidal.  I guess what I am saying is the system is frustrating but don’t give up or stop advocating for your loved one or yourself.  If one won’t listen there are others out there that will. 

 Aj beats to his own drum.  He has his quirky sense of humor and quick wits about him.  He is kind, loveable and just wants to be accepted.  People may not know why he does things and now he will explain his brain thinks differently but he’s still a boy that is just like everyone else … with a little twist.”

Annalee L.