Meet Graham from Alberta
Graham has taught us how to be patient, how to communicate without words, and to how to celebrate life to the fullest.
Graham is an amazing, happy, and loving boy! He was diagnosed with autism at the age of 2 and half years old. Graham is very driven to do what he wants, when he wants, and has found virtual school through covid a challenge. One of his favourite activities, swimming, has been impacted by Coronovirus, and his whole family is looking forward to a time when they can go out and enjoy fun activities again.
Learn more about Graham’s autism journey through this Q&A with his Mom, Savanna. We are grateful to Savanna for spreading autism awareness, being a strong advocate for Graham and others, and sharing wonderful, honest, and important advice as an autism parent.
At what age was Graham diagnosed with autism?
Graham was diagnosed with Autism at the age of 2 and a half. We noticed that Graham was “different” than his older brother. He had lost any words that he knew around the age of 1 year, he had zero interest in any toys, and only got fixated on the backs of DVD cases for hours. He would also “flap” his arms when he was excited, which we now know is a form of stimming.
How has autism affected your life as a parent?
Autism has changed our lives greatly. It has been a long difficult struggle with learning Graham’s needs, but we also learned to appreciate the small things. Graham has taught us how to be patient, how to communicate without words, and to how to celebrate life to the fullest. I have learned to be a strong advocator from Graham, and ensure he gets what he needs to the fullest. He is one amazing, loving, and happy boy.
How have you exceled?
I have learned I need to be patient, Graham will do what he wants to do, when he wants to do it. He can be very stubborn at times. I think compared to the average parent, that I learn to apricate the small successes that the average parent would hardly notice, we make it a big deal in our home.
What struggles have you faced?
I have had to face other parents judging me for meltdowns, for looking at my son different when he has had to wear noise canceling headsets. I have learned to either ignore OR use it as a time to educate others who may not know what autism is.
How has your family supported you through your autism journey?
My husband has been my largest support, he stepped up and took on a dad role to Graham as his stepdad when he was only 2 years old. He loves and cares for Graham unconditionally! My big sister, Graham’s aunty, loves him with all her heart, and is always there to help or to take Graham and his siblings out to spoil them. I have lost a lot of unsupportive family members, but the family we do have is close and never hesitates to be there for us all.
Has your life been impacted by Coronavirus? What are your some of your goals and hope for the future?
YES, it has been hard not being able to get out and do fun activities with all 3 kids. Graham really enjoys swimming as a deep pressure activity, and he does not understand why we cannot go. We have tried explaining it to him, and he has replied “BUT I AM NOT SICK!” Online school was a struggle to keep Graham in front of his school tablet for google meets, he did not like it one bit!
I hope the world in the future is more autism friendly when my son gets older, that there will be more awareness in our schools and community.
What advice would you give to a young person, recently diagnosed with autism, wondering what the future holds for them?
Never look at autism as a disability, always look at it as a different ability! There is nothing you CAN’T do, it may take you a bit longer and you may have to work a lot harder than the average person, but you WILL get there!
Please join us in helping create a kinder more inclusive world for people with autism. Show your support for Graham and other people with autism by donating generously.
Disclaimer: These are subjective opinions and real experiences of autistic people across Canada. Autism Speaks Canada does not provide medical or legal advice or services. Rather, Autism Speaks Canada provides general information about autism as a service to the community. The information provided on our website is not a recommendation, referral or endorsement of any resource, therapeutic method, or service provider and does not replace the advice of medical, legal or educational professionals. Autism Speaks Canada has not validated and is not responsible for any information, events, or services provided by third parties.