What if all day, every day, you were forced to focus on what you struggle with? What if you had to spend hours and hours trying to get better at something you have no interest in? What if the people around you were continuously talking about your weaknesses? Unfortunately, this is the space where so many children with developmental disabilities live.
Hi! My name is Amy. I don’t have any fancy labels that come after my name, no MD, or JD or anything like that. I could add “mom” or “wife” or “sister” or “daughter,” but nothing fancy. My youngest son, Barclay, however, has quite a few fancy labels. At around age 2, Barclay was diagnosed with Childhood Apraxia of Speech (CAS). Six months later, he received an additional diagnosis of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). Another six months later, he received a third diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). That’s a lot of labels for a little guy who had barely turned 3.
Barclay is now in an intensive, full-time Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) program where he is thriving, and I continue to learn as much as I can about these disabilities. But I’ve realized in as much as I want to help Barclay overcome his daily struggles, I have to also remember to focus on his strengths. Autism self-advocate, Temple Grandin, says rather than focus exclusively on trouble spots, educators and parents should encourage kids with disabilities to expand their strengths.
The more I learn, the more I feel this tug. I feel this is bigger than Barclay. I created Big Abilities to bring you on this journey with me. Weekly we will explore, share, and encourage each other. We will help our children with developmental disabilities excel in their areas of interest and strength while also helping them overcome their struggles. I hope that we can begin a momentum in mind shift from what’s “wrong” with our child to what is “right.”
Welcome to “Big Abilities!”
2 thoughts on “Bigger Than Barclay”
Hi Amy I have A Kaelin at the age of 7 he was diagnosed with ADHD and ASD. I was completely blindsided as he talked maintained eye contact is affectionate and is not ruled by routine. Boy what a learning curve it’s a spectrum for a reason and I quickly learnt rain man is not how all autistic people present. I hate the focus on his struggles it breaks me time and time again I absolutely dread his NDIS planning meeting I am sure I go through and write tissue box. It’s a struggle as Kaelin can live on a few hours or no sleep so I am fairly certain I am a zombie right now. I focus on what he can do and all the people in the world on the spectrum that have created incredible life changing devices break through art and music. He is amazing funny and he is music he listens to a song and plays it on his guitar. As far as I am concerned he is not broken and something to be fixed. Pity the world view things differently and treat him as a broken person needing fixing. Thank you for writing to my other children. You captured this beautifully and put my own thoughts in something I can share with my other 3 kids.
Thank you so much for sharing Kaelin’s story with me! That is amazing he is that talented on the guitar. Continue to nurture that strength as I know you will! There are days I, too, go through a tissue box. I totally understand! Best of luck in continuing to advocate for Kaelin and in raising your other children. Best, Amy