❤ someone AuSome? Meet Mary and Nico
Nico has taught me to never judge a book by its cover, and never to hold a grudge. His fabulous sense of wonder and whimsy always encourages me to start the day with a smile and to have a positive outlook whenever possible.
When Nico was diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder, I had so many questions about the future. I wondered what Nico’s life might look like and how I would support him as he got older and faced different adversities in life.
9 years later, Nico is one of the most compassionate and empathetic people I’ve ever known. I love the sound of his laughter and the joy he finds in trying to make people laugh with his “comebacks”. His honest and candid communication (whilst sometimes a little blunt) is refreshing. One of my favourite memories is from Grade 4 when Nico told his teacher that she was probably suffering from “age-related memory loss” because she admitted to becoming forgetful and he was afraid for her health. He couldn’t, at the time, understand the humour in his statement — thankfully his teacher did.
Nico is not afraid to be himself, and he has taught me that we don’t always have to conform. For his 6th birthday party instead of a Marvel-themed Superheroes Party, he chose to have a ‘French-inspired Parisian’ party because he was obsessed with the Eiffel Tower. Nico wore a beret on his head and had his friends play pin the tail on the French Poodle. It was the best party ever.
Friends are an important part of Nico’s life and he loves being social. Looking back this was something I worried about when he was younger as he showed no interest in socializing with anyone. Today I love the way he defends kids at school that are being bullied and teased and reminds bullies to “use kind words”.
Nico loves music and last year got to meet one of his hero’s Billy Idol at the PNE. As parents we spend a lot of time advocating for our kids, looking for alternative programs, and feeling frustrated with flaws we see in broken systems. Inspired by Nico, “Are you being a glass-half-full mom?” I always remind myself of all the beautiful things we have in our lives. Right now, Nico is learning to play four musical instruments and has perfect pitch which allows him to listen to a song, and then teach it to himself on the piano…it’s incredible! Nico has also been a member of the Canucks Autism Network which helped him learn to love sports. He has participated in camps, and today is a member of the VASS Blue Streaks — an adaptive ski racing team and plays Challenger Baseball, Track & Field and indoor soccer with the Special Olympics.
Nico is a truly special person and every day when I pick him up from school his first words are always “So how was your day mom?”. As he has gotten older, enjoying musical concerts with ‘mom’ has become one of his favourite pastimes.
Autism is a journey and at times we haven’t always ended up on the easy path but Nico’s perseverance and hard work, alongside our wonderful Behavior Intervention team has allowed him to develop the skills needed to navigate the world and find ways to self-regulate, calm himself down, work on sensory issues and take perspective which has been invaluable to him as he moves into adulthood.
Nico loves asking me questions about life, about being a ‘tweenager’ and what it was like to be his age growing up in MY generation. Some of Nico’s favourite TV shows include comedies that include a protagonist on the autism spectrum including Big Bang Theory, Young Sheldon and The Good Doctor, which always leads to a discussion about the character with ASD.
The information, advice, and knowledge I have received from others within our community have given me the confidence to lean into these conversations with Nico, and others outside of our community. I have often found myself reaching out to organizations like AutismBC when I’ve needed support, and we enjoy attending events and activities that have helped us meet others sharing our journey. I am always reminded when attending events and participating in groups that Nico and I are not alone on this journey. From organizations that support us, to other families and donors who make everything possible I am truly grateful.
With thanks, appreciation and lots of smiles,
Mary and Nico
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