As many of you know my beautiful son, Mitchell has autism. Mitchell is now 8-years-old. My children, Shannon, Sean, and Olivia, and I continue to be inspired by this amazing child.
Through the years, Mitchell has been through countless hours of intensive therapies, medical treatments, special diets, and nutritional supplements. I have traveled and researched far and wide to find the best doctors and autism experts and my children and I have been devoted to continuously working with Mitchell. I am happy to say that he has come a long way in many areas. Mitchell loves to play with his brother and sisters. He has an incredible sense of balance and can negotiate any balance beam, or staircase railing like a cat :-). He can ride a bike and zooms around on his scooter too. It is difficult to keep up with him! He loves books, has a wonderful sense of humor, and hugs us like he means it! Currently one of his favorite things to do is to push his own small grocery cart at the store and shop for his own apples and bananas. It is truly wonderful to have him join us in our everyday world. This is a huge change from the child that was so entrenched in his own world that he was not available for learning, communication, or any of what we all hope for in our children. He is a joy to be around and his sweet personality is nothing short of endearing to everyone he meets.
The journey for Mitchell continues as still a major challenge for him is his ability to communicate. Mitchell has continued to be entrapped in silence. All of these years he did not have a way to express his thoughts or feelings or opinions; however, last year we discovered that Mitchell could spell by moving foam letters into place. In working with Mitchell extensively, we experimented by helping Mitchell point to the letters on an alphabet puzzle to spell the answers to our questions. What happened next would change our lives and what we understood about Mitchell. This child, who was thought to not understand what we were saying, spelled out, on his first effort, "Can you tell me how it is a boy could have autism?" We were left speechless. We were, both, shocked and amazed. Since then, my children and I have come to know that there is a wonderful, intelligent, and inquisitive child inside, if only his voice could come out. Mitchell's typing is still sporadic and undeveloped, although, I hope to provide a device and method of augmentative communication that will bring the ability to communicate and maybe even encourage speech as some experts have witnessed in other children with autism.
It has been very exciting to be able to finally know what my child is thinking, even at the most basic level, and to anticipate how this could open up his world. I would like to provide training for myself and for Mitchell in the use of such a communication device in the hope that Mitchell will be able to fully communicate with everyone in his world. At the same time, I would also like to expand his therapies for speech as I truly believe Mitchell will talk one day. If the door to communication will open for Mitchell, the possibilities for his future will be greatly expanded.
At this time, a change in Mitchell's school program is needed as we have discovered a huge potential in his abilities. His current school program can no longer meet his needs. Mitchell is in need of a school that would have all the programs, technologies, and therapies he requires, and, very importantly, a program that will build upon his newly found ability to communicate, so that he can become a more independent member of society. I am currently involved in deep negotiations with the school district's administration regarding his future.
Hope of Mitchell
Mitchell will first need evaluations from communication and autism experts to determine how best to tap into his unique potential. There are significant expenses involved in this endeavor, and because Mitchell's needs are not medical in nature, unfortunately these expenses are not covered by medical insurance. Although, my children and I love Mitchell unconditionally, our desire for him to be a happy, participant in our world is so strong that I am reaching out to good friends and family for financial support in this endeavor.
If I Could Read His Thoughts
My name is Mitchell.
I have Autism Spectrum Disorder
People say I can't talk,
but I have a voice.
Sometimes it comes out in a beautiful melody.
My mother says I have perfect pitch.
Sometimes my voice comes out in a single, fun word, like "balloon."
Most times my words don't make sense to my teachers and family,
and I become angry and frustrated, and I pinch or scream
But I have a voice.
I wish I could use my voice to say what I want to say.
I cannot tell my mother I love her.
I cannot ask a friend to play with me.
I cannot tell my big brother,
"thank you," for giving me a piggy-back ride
When I fall, I cannot tell my mother where I hurt.
I wish I could use my voice.
My voice is in me,
it wants to come out.
My family is waiting to know more about me.
I am waiting to tell them what I want to be when I grow up.
I know I will talk some day.
My mom says one day I will jabber on so much that everyone will say,
I know I will talk,
since my voice is in me
Please join my children and me while we embark on this exciting journey to unveil Mitchell's voice. Please donate and re-post this fundraiser and pass it on.
Thank you for your prayers and support,
Teresa Costantino Eggers