I am a mother to four wonderful children. At 19 years old I gave birth to my first-born son, who passed away within six hours because he was born without kidneys. It was heartbreaking and I was jealous that all these moms in the hospital had healthy children and mine was with God. Fortunately, a few years later, God blessed us with a healthy boy and two years after that with a healthy baby girl. For the next 10 years we enjoyed life as a family of four. Then God gave us an amazing gift, in early 2016, another son, RaeKwon.
Early on I knew RaeKwon was much different than my other children. He couldn’t talk, he frequently had meltdowns. He was sweet one minute and mean the next. He likes to make animal noises and often acts like a kitty meowing around the house. I cry for him all the time and worry about how the world will treat him. I’ve had strangers at the store tell me I should spank him when he’s acting out. I hate to tell people, but a butt whooping doesn’t make autism go away!
I tell RaeKwon he is mommy’s favorite little guy. God helped me grow up. I look at life differently. Several times, while out in public, RaeKwon will have a meltdown or run away from us. When he runs from us it’s scary. His doctor says that elopement is common in children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder and there are higher rates of accidents, even drownings, in children with autism compared to other children. So, when he is out of our sight, even for a brief second, our hearts skip a beat.
I bought a house to raise my kids with a big backyard for them to play. Our house has a deep creek way at the back of the yard. One neighbor has a pool and the other has a pond. There is a wooded area near our yard with a busy train track. RaeKwon recently became obsessed with Thomas the Train. He sees the tracks and often says, “I can touch the train.” I tell him no and that it’s dangerous, but he doesn’t understand. He thinks they’re toys. He also says he can live in the water, but he doesn’t know how to swim.
Unfortunately, when we moved into the house, my husband of 21 years, decided to leave us. We were heartbroken and as a single parent raising three children finances were tight. We needed a fence to keep my baby safe. I wasn’t sure how to afford it, so I reached out to Avenues for Autism for support.
I am truly thankful that Avenues for Autism cares enough to provide financial assistance through the Suzanne Tyner Autism Assistance Fund to help our family. Stacy Harper, the Executive Director, also helped me connect with other organizations to reach our lofty goal of $11,000 to pay for the fence. The fence is scheduled to be installed this week. Praise God! We’re so grateful for all who have helped.
I am so thankful God gave me my children. I’m especially grateful that he chose me to be RaeKwon’s mom. I’m overwhelmed by the generosity the community has shown to help him explore new opportunities and stay safe.
Story shared by Devon (RaeKwon’s mom)