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Meet Peter

“I’m going to wait until the sun comes up and then I’m going to open the curtains and you’re going to make me scrambled eggs and toast. Okay Mommy? Okay?” “Okay, Peter.” I say. Like clockwork, Peter scripts his day with his simple needs and desire for routine.

Peter met all his milestones as a baby. He said “mama” and “daddy” by age one and even sang nursery rhymes. But at about 18 months of age he stopped singing and answering to his name. His language didn’t develop and by age two he was no longer keeping up with his peers. After we confirmed his hearing was normal, we took him to a speech therapist. I will never forget the look she gave me after his assessment…”I don’t think I am the right therapist for your son” she said. “He doesn’t play with toys appropriately. I recommend you take him to a specialist.” This was the first time we heard the word autism, and that’s when our world started spinning faster.

I had just given birth to my daughter but my focus was on my son. I didn’t return to work and we moved in with my parents. I spent my days taking him to specialists, therapists, and researching naturopaths and diets, and I spent my nights worried about his future. I begged his doctors and therapists to tell me if he would go to college, have a job, get married and have kids. I wanted to know so I can mourn the loss of these life milestones and move on. No one could answer my questions, but it was one speech therapist who posed a question back to me that changed how I saw things for both my kids…”How do you know your daughter will get married and have kids? How do you know she will want to?” It was at that point that I realized the things that I wanted and brought me happiness may not align with what my children will want in the future. There is no loss to mourn if Peter never wants it in the first place.

Peter is now 14 years old. He brings a smile to everyone who meets him. His innocence and sweet nature is infectious. He’s lovable, kind, funny, and the most handsome boy in the world! He is happiest when he has food in his belly, there’s music playing, and being with his family and friends. He has no desire to go to college right now, but he does want to get better at taking care of himself. Amalia from the Centre for Dreams told me about their new Youth Achieving Dreams program and it’s been a great addition to Peter’s learning and social life. Michelle, Amalia and the team are experienced in providing a learning environment conducive to the needs of each member. He is learning how to make his own lunch, load the dishwasher, sweep the floor, grocery shop, and how to keep himself safe in the community. These life skills mean more to his happiness than anything he can learn from a textbook. He is proud of the new things he is learning and we hope these new skills will help him get a job in the future, but more importantly it will give him independence and self-confidence. The Centre for Dreams also provides my son with a safe and loving environment to do fun activities such as bowling or chill in the Snoezelen room with new friends. His friendships are not what are considered typical to you and me. He doesn’t call them on the phone and he has trouble sharing details of his day, but he is so happy when I drop him off and pick him up. That’s all I need to know.

Peter has taught me that happiness is simple. Its good food, good music, and a loving family. His desires may change as he gets older and I pray that his dreams will always come true. For now, I won’t worry about “what if”. I will look up at the stars and in his eyes and let him ask the questions. I will let him create his own happiness. I just want to help him achieve his dreams.

With love,

Mom, Dad and Olympia

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