Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Justin’s progress….through artwork

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Justin has always been good at writing letters and numbers, but it took quite a while to get him to draw pictures.  He started using markers when he was about 16 months old and he always loved painting.  We didn’t see much more than scribbling at first, but then I watched him one day as he took a marker and drew a perfect circle on the page.  I couldn’t believe it!  I thought he would draw a smiley face, or an animal, or embellish it somehow.  And then I watched him draw scribbles all around the outside of the perfect circle.  I wondered what he was thinking, so I gave him another sheet of paper and he did the same thing!

This is how Justin’s drawings looked when he was 3 years old…
justin 006
I took another look at what he did and felt inspired by it.  I knew that this artwork was a representation of Justin and his speech delay.  We didn’t know at that time that Justin had Autism, although we had some suspicions.  But the drawing showed me that his world, the perfect circle, made sense to him—and all the scribbling around that circle was the communication that goes on with the rest of us, and it’s just a bunch of unorganized, chaotic mess to him.  Amazing…
I remember how frustrating it was when he was younger, and how helpless I felt not being able to help him find a voice to request his needs or express emotions.  We had some success with sign language, but it was very slow-going and inconsistent.  I felt an incredible amount of worry for him and how he would function in life—and not having any answers just made my anxieties worse.
I can’t say that we’ve ever received many “answers” about Justin, even now.  Having the diagnosis of Autism has helped to guide us to some treatments that have made a huge impact for Justin.  But there is no handbook on how to treat Autism or what the future will hold for Justin.  Having the diagnosis did relieve some of our anxieties—just like Justin’s picture, we felt like we weren’t out in scribble-land and that we had some closure, like the circle.  Most of the time, our anxiety level isn’t any worse than the anxieties we feel for our typical kids.   The only thing that relieves those anxieties is prayer.  We believe that Heavenly Father loves Justin and our little family, so he will guide us through the unknowns of Autism to find answers that work best for our family.
And here’s the great update to the story, this is the picture that Justin drew this weekend when I asked him to finish his worksheet…
justin 002
He did it all by himself!!  With a big, goofy grin on his face the whole time!!  Looks like his world is becoming more and more organized instead of chaotic.  That’s what we hope for!!  Love that kid…
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