This is my brother, Ryan.  God made him special.  :-)

Of course, God made us all special.  But Ryan, like many, many other children, has Autism.  Autism is a spectrum disorder, which means that the symptoms vary widely from person to person. Mama and Daddy first started gettin' nervous when Ryan was two.  He just didn't act like other kids his age.  He didn't call out for Mama and Daddy... if he got upset, he'd just scream.  He loved them, you can be sure of that!  He's a very snuggly guy.  But he had and has a hard time expressing himself with words. At age 3, Mama says he had about three words.  She'd ask him what he wanted... even give him visual choices... and he couldn't respond.  He didn't know how to say bye-bye or anything! 

Then Daddy called ECI (Early Childhood Intervention) and they sent out folks who helped begin the year-long process of finding out what was goin' on.  It was hard for Mama and Daddy to go through that process.   It takes a long time to diagnose Autism Spectrum Disorders.  There are so many things... they call them "red flags"... to watch for, and there's no quick test.  You can't go to the doctor and say "there's somethin' wrong" and have an answer the same day, like when Richie gets ear infections.  That's hard for mamas and daddies.  To have people say "there's somethin' wrong, but where not sure what". 

Well, as Mama and Daddy like to say, God always has a plan.  Through His plan we were brought to Groesbeck, where Ryan has a teacher who loves him, and a church family and friends who love him.  By "love", I mean understand when he's throwin' fits that he can't always help it.  Sometimes Mama says he's just bein' a stink, though... I guess all boys do that.  But our friends are so patient with him, and so supportive, always huggin' on Mama and Daddy and Ryan and tellin' them how great he is.  We have lots of prayin' friends too, and we're so thankful!  And Richie told me to tell you it's not for lack of discipline, either! 

Please remember when you're shoppin' and there's a kid throwin' a fit, it might not be a tantrum over a toy or candy.  Please don't judge his or her mama or daddy by the noise.  They're doin' their best.  Mama says our brains are like computers.  Everyone's brain was made with certain programs, and brother's just doesn't have the one that tells him how to read faces, respond to emotion, or even how to say "I'm hungry" or anything like that.  We know some kids with ASD's who can't stand certain textures, and can hear crazy stuff like the buzzin' of certain lights and it really bothers 'em.  Every one of them is different, too.  Like Ryan LOVES to jump up and down, and even have Mama rub on his legs and arms, but other kids with ASD can't stand to be touched.  That's why it's a "spectrum" disorder.

There are many therapies out there, but they're hard to get sometimes, especially in a small country town and for a teacher's family.  But we love our Ryan, and Me and Richie want you to know that even though a child with ASD may not be able to respond when you say "Hi" or "I like your shirt" they still appreciate your words.   Mama says when other kids, especially, talk to and love on Ryan it makes her heart smile. 

Thanks for readin' this.  Ryan is real important to us, and we feel blessed that God trusted us with someone like him. 

Maelynn and Richie

For more information or to support Autism Awareness, visit these sites...