Our Autisim Story
Keith Norates Jr.
This event is being held to honor our son Keith. Our mission is to raise awareness in our community by starting a non-profit organization to help other families going through the same trails we’ve experienced over the last 18 years. Also, to help through donations for research and programs in our community.
This is how our journey and mission began. In 2004 our son Keith was diagnosed with “Aspergers Syndrome”. Aspergers is a developmental disorder characterized by significant difficulties in social interaction and nonverbal communication, along with restricted a repetitive pattern of behavior and interest. Keith has faced many developmental as well as medical issues over the years. For example: Keith was nonverbal until the age of 7. Academically he was more advanced then kids his age but from the outside looking in you would never know. Six years later we were faced with another milestone Keith was diagnosed with Epilepsy. Early intervention is the key to success for this type of child. Over the years we fought for Keith to be placed in “Main Stream Classes” with his peers as we knew special placement wasn’t necessary. Keith has currently graduated high school “with a standard diploma” and is currently attending college.
At an early age there were signs that we knew had to be address. These signs were written off initially as Keith being developmentally delay or just behavior issues, but we knew there was a bigger problem at bay and we were determined to find out what it was. As a parent you know your child, it’s a hard fight but you must be their biggest advocate. One of the biggest mild stones you’ll have to face is school placement for your child.
As Keith became school age, I was told the standard school system did not have any programs available for placement for him. Most didn’t even know what Aspergers Syndrome was or how to help. This is where our fight evolved. I refused to allow him to fall through the cracks and be hindered because of lack of knowledge. I prayed constantly and started to research his condition as wells as school resources so that I’d be prepared for the battle we were up against.
I know the process can be overwhelming and you don’t even know where to begin. Just be patient and tackle one thing at a time. I know with prayer and hard work your child can and will succeed. First thing first: Make a call to your county school board. Making this call was the best decision I could have ever made. This allows you to be informed on what your rights are as a parent. You can also get information on what’s available for schools in your area. For instance: Are there speech therapist readily available? Does this school have a designated communication specialist? Does the school your considering have employees educated in working with special needs children?
Keeping the line of communication open with your child’s teacher is key. Make sure any educator working with your child knows their specific need and can always reach you if they have any questions or concerns. Know that you are not alone. In our community we tend to shame children that are considered “different” and most parents are embarrassed. I want to let you know that it’s ok you are not alone, you do not have to be ashamed and your child needs you!
I am not a professional. I’m a parent that has successfully made strides to make sure my child was not over looked. I love children and want to make sure parents have the resources they need, and our children have a fighting chance. If you have any questions on resources available to you or if you are someone with resources to share. Please reach out to me via email. I would love to hear from you. Please join us at the Autism awareness event. Detailed information is listed on the website. Also, there is a link on the website with my email information. I will make sure to contact you at my earliest convenience. This is Yolanda signing off …..God Bless.