Gabriel is an energetic and sweet little boy. He was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder at 18 months. We’ve been working hard on Gabriel’s development through therapy and he is progressing. He’s four now and is finally using many words to communicate, eye contact is greatly improving, and some interest in other children has started to emerge.
One of Gabriel’s greatest obstacles is his sensory processing disorder. He is a “sensory seeker” and the same energy that makes him a fun little boy at the playground also poses as a hazard, for he will run off if startled by a noise or anything unexpected that might upset him. I keep my eyes on him at all times, and never for a second leave him unattended. Still, the sudden nature of his run-away sprints will occasionally catch me off guard. I believe that exposing Gabriel to as many age-appropriate activities as possible is key to teaching him how to live and grow as a full participating member in our society. However, this exposure does come with some very stressful situations. Simple outings as going to playgrounds, outdoor community events and similar kid activities can become dangerous if Gabriel is not properly cared for.
Working alongside Gabriel’s OT, we have found that compression clothing calms his hyperactivity. Wearing a tight shirt/shorts underneath his apparel in school greatly improves his concentration. Wearing it at home and during outings provides great relief too.
Also, my go-to safety equipment is a stroller. I use it to get Gabriel safely from the car, to the parking lot, and into his therapies and other activities. I use it for something as simple as standing in line to buy an ice-cream or at a ticket booth. I take his stroller everywhere; in the event he does dart off, I will quickly catch up to him with the stroller and strap him in securely. Gabriel likes the feeling of being safe inside the stroller, so I also sit him there to avoid meltdowns.
Unfortunately, as Gabriel has grown, a traditional stroller is too small for him. It was difficult to find an affordable stroller that would accommodate his height and weight. He also needed new sensory clothing which is much more expensive than typical clothing found at a local retailer. As a single mother these items were out of my price range.
Thanks to the Suzanne Tyner Fund we were given a new stroller that accommodates Gabriel’s weight, but is still light and easy enough for me to push. We also received two sensory shirts for him to wear. We are so grateful for this gift. I hope to be as good of a mom to Gabriel as Mrs. Tyner was to her child with autism, and I hope to give back to the community at least a little bit of what she and Avenues for Autism has given.
Gabriel’s life is full of promise; we just needed to figure out how to best help him, and we did!
Tatiana (Gabriel’s mom).