Spotlight on Brian
In 2003, Jennille gave birth to her second son, Brian and watched him grow and blossom through the first year of his life. As all too many parents in recent days are seeing, however, the second year did not see the same milestones. On the contrary, Brian began to backtrack, losing some of these skills including his speech. By the time he was two, Brian was nonverbal and would not respond to his name, despite passing hearing tests. It was during this year that their family received the diagnosis of autism. Through the whirlwind that is navigating the diagnosis and treatments, Jennille managed to get Brian started with intensive ABA therapy within the year.
Brian began to progress quickly with ABA. He found his words again and was able to express his wants and needs. His first words were to request “cookies” and “milk.” Jennille remembers his eye contact improving as Brian finally learned to respond when his name was called. Still, it was a long road. Brian remained withdrawn and, though was able to speak, he was limited to requests and echoing scripts from T.V., especially Spongebob Squarepants.
In July 2011, Jill Noble came to work with their family. It was after all of these years of hard work, that Brian began to speak with thoughts of his own, not just echolalia. This past year in particular has seen major leaps and bounds for Brian. He is beginning to speak his mind and has become very aware of others, including his peers. Jill recalls a time when she was concentrating very hard on something and did not have a smile on her face. Completely on his own, Brian tapped her on the shoulder and said “Jill, you’re not smiling. What’s wrong?” It was the first time Jill had seen Brian take note of another’s facial expression and find the words to express his concern. Brian has also participated on a basketball team with typical peers, many of whom were older than he, and this year, he scored four baskets. Mainstreamed in a few classes at school, Brian also got to participate in the science fair at his school. Out of all of the other fifth graders, the judges picked Brian’s project and awarded it third place.
Perhaps his biggest moment came when the school announced a talent show in which many of the students, including Brian’s younger brother, were participating. Brian wanted to participate and, at first, was going to recite the preamble to the Constitution. Having noticed his peers, however, Brian found more words with which to surprise his family. “Everyone else is either singing or dancing,” he told his mother. He did not want to do the preamble. He wanted to sing or dance like his peers. Without fear, Brian got up in front of his school and beautifully performed “Hold on We’re Going Home” by Drake.
Jennille looks at him now and thinks back to those days of tantrums and lying on the floor making “snow” angels in Wal-Mart. She recalls when he would sit, withdrawn from others, barely even noticing their existence and leaves us to marvel at the progress he has made through hard work. “We don’t know what he cannot do,” she says, “because everything we’ve tried, he has been able to do.” There are still things to learn and Brian will continue to try new experiences as he transitions into middle school. Brian stands as a testament to early intervention and his own hard work with his loving family, and Butterfly Effects team. He shows the world that you can expect to see great things from a hardworking person, even with autism.