As Autism Awareness Month comes to an end, we leave you with this story from Toni who is the mother of a child with Autism. Toni shared her family’s story with SCO in 2010. This year, we are excited to share an update on her daughter, Tommi Lee, who was diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome at age 5. Below are some excerpts from Toni and Tommi Lee’s story as told in 2010, and the update on Tommi Lee follows.
My daughter Tommi Lee is 16 years old. She was diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome when she was five years old. Like most parents, my initial reaction to the diagnosis was denial and confusion. After several days of processing and researching the term Asperger Syndrome, I finally accepted it. Instead of being reactive, I became proactive by seeking an Early Intervention Program. Tommi Lee and I participated in 18 months of learning behavioral modification skills. It was one of the most humbling experiences that I have endured. This gave me an opportunity to see other families and learn from how they handle their problems. Overall, this was a great journey for us.
Our experience in the public and charter schools was not the best. They had a tendency to treat and teach every child as if they had the same needs. As a result, it stifled Tommi Lee’s progression. Tommi Lee needed to be challenged.
I discovered the Autism Scholarship when Tommi Lee was 13. I could not believe how easy it was to complete the application as well as the quick turn around. She has come a long way from being very extremely shy to very sociable. Tommi Lee basically serves as the teacher’s assistant. At her new school, the focus is on the child’s strengths vs. their deficits. Tommi Lee excels in writing, computer, and helping the other students.
I’m very proud to say that I am inspired by Tommi Lee, and I believe that she will continue to develop more skills and live a happy fulfilling life.
Recently, we asked Toni to share an update on how Tommi Lee is doing and how the Ohio Autism Scholarship continues to impact their family. She was happy to report that Tommi Lee is making great progress socially. She is in a school that is not over-stimulating, and her teachers are experts in working with students who have Autism. Toni says that she strongly encourages parents of children with Autism to consider applying for the Ohio Autism Scholarship so that they can have access to more choices for their child’s education.
We are thrilled to hear that Tommi Lee is continuing to make progress. Thank you for the update, Toni!