Happy Thursday everyone! Through our [email protected] email, we receive so many amazing stories from our local community members, information on charitable organizations to support and SO much more. A few weeks ago, Candice Paradon sent us an email to graciously share her son, Kingston’s, journey with us in addition to a few facts about autism since April is Autism Awareness and Appreciation month! We were so appreciative of her willingness to share her knowledge with us that we asked if she would be willing to take over the blog and share her story along with her son’s experience with autism with all of you!
Today, I am SO excited to welcome Candice and her family to the blog to share their story!
Hello everyone! My name is Candice Paradon. My husband Carlos and I own a small business CPC Woodcraft, here in Surrey BC. I am also an Education Assistant and my most important role, a mother of two to Kingston 10 and Rebecca 5. You may or may not know that April is Autism Awareness Month Worldwide. In my world, Autism awareness is 12 months a year because autism lives in my home. One of my children, Kingston, is autistic.
Our autism journey began in August of 2010 when our son was born however, we would not receive a formal diagnosis many years later when he was five. The earliest thing I remember of how Kingston was a little different, was how hard it was to get him to settle and often agitated when he would wake up. It was almost like he was never well rested. He was a very active baby and had early interests in letters and numbers. Of course, my husband and I knew that he was a genius (as most parents think of their children) and we fostered these interests by playing games and doing activity books with him. He was an early reader and had an amazing memory, however he struggled in many other areas. He had very rigid routines that we tried our best to stick to and prevent meltdowns that would occur when we strayed from them. He struggled with transitions, like leaving from grandparent’s houses, parks and preschool. His verbal communication was very limited and he often would make sounds to identify what he needed rather than words. When Kingston was 2, I began my college program to become an Educational Assistant to work with students with special needs in the public school system. At the time, I knew nothing about Autism Spectrum Disorder. In fact, the reason I had an interest in doing this type of work was because of my sister who has Cerebral Palsy. I thought I would work with children who had physical disabilities and be their aid as I had seen how Education Assistants (called teacher assistants when I was a kid) helped her so much during her school years. As I learned more in my program about the various types of student’s I would have the opportunity to work with, it became obvious that the most likely students I would be working with would be autistic children.
I began to notice more and more similarities between the students I was working with and my own son. One of the things that stood out to us was Kingston’s narrow interests and how he would be consumed to learn more about them. For instance, at the age of 4 he knew every make and model of car, not only the names but what they looked like. Carlos can remember one time when they were driving when Kingston pointed out a Porsche that was across an intersection from them. The only part of the car that was visible was the tail light. His memory for small specific details was incredible (and still is). The summer leading up to Kindergarten we had already begun the process to see a pediatrician to discuss a possible Sensory Processing Disorder and ADHD. We found that Kingston would be very sensitive to being in crowded noisy places, he was in constant motion almost like he always had his engine running and he would seek deep pressure to regulate his body. However, a very important person in Kingston’s life suggested it could be an Autism diagnosis we should pursue. We swiftly changed our course of action, and I began furiously researching and note taking of our son’s behaviours. My husband and I decided to have a private assessment done. Within a matter of weeks and numerous appointments, we had his diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder in our hands. I want to be honest with all the readers here, even though I knew it in my heart that this would be the findings, I did have days of mourning what I thought my child would be like. The truth is, a diagnosis did not change my child. It gave us answers and hope for what the future would hold for him.
Once we had this diagnosis the therapies began. Up until the age of 18 in British Columbia, there is financial support from the Autism Funding Unit through our government. We spent the summer before grade 1 doing Speech and Communication Therapy, ABA, play based therapy and Occupational Therapy. The funding dwindled quickly so once grade 1 began we focused on working with his Behavioural Interventionist and Speech Pathologist privately while he was assisted at school by an incredible Education Assistant. We had a multi-disciplinary team of professionals who worked together with us to support Kingston the best way we knew how. Because of his diagnosis, every year he has received one on one support at school from Educational Assistants and has an Individual Education Plan that is discussed with us and his school based team. Kingston is currently in grade 5 and has overcome many challenges and has many friendships with his peers. His current special interest is technology. Last summer he designed and built a bike trailer boom box with the help of his dad, he does all of our audio and computer trouble shooting and most recently added dual monitors to his desktop computer. He is a precious gift and we have learned so much from him. He is wired a little differently, that neurodiverse brain of his, and we wouldn’t change him for the world.
Facts about Autism
Autism is a complex condition that affects brain development and results in differences in social interaction, communication, interests and behaviour. The severity of symptoms and the effects of it are different in each person. 1 in 66 are diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder here in British Columbia and it is the most common neurological disorder in children. Many children show signs of Autism before the age of 3 years old. Autism Spectrum Disorder is a just that, a spectrum. I want to acknowledge that every autistic person is as unique as any other individual out there. This isn’t a spectrum that runs left to right along a line of low functioning to high. It is more of a circular spectrum of sensory, language, motor skills, perception and executive function.
Some early signs of Autism are:
- Little to no eye contact
- Limited verbal communication
- Repetitive Behaviours
- Fixation on activities or objects
- Specific Routines
- Delayed Speech and language skills
- Not responding to name
I want to thank Jillian and her team for giving us the opportunity to share a little bit of Kingston’s story. It is a great privilege to bring more awareness and acceptance to Autism Spectrum Disorder.
The Paradon Family