Monday, August 2, 2010
Matty's dad is a Marine. They lived at Camp LeJeune, North Carolina, where he was diagnosed much earlier than the state of North Carolina allows, because my daughter pushed and insisted. She knew something was wrong because Matthew wasn't progressing like his older brother, Will, had.
Once he was diagnosed, doctors told my daughter that Matty was severely autistic -- he may never learn to speak. After the initial shock and the grief of acceptance, my daughter took that as a personal challenge because she loved Matty. She taught him to sign.
As a direct result of her unwavering love and by signing and speaking everything aloud with Matthew, my daughter eventually broke through his autistic barriers. He suddenly understood the connection between sign and words, and Matthew began talking ... and in full sentences. I am so proud of my daughter and her family for the love and strength they've shown. They are an inspiration to everyone ...
I am Matty, I am ME
by CJ Heck (Grammy CJ)
I’ve got this thing called autism
that can lock you up inside
but I am me, I’m Matty,
and I’m learning not to hide.
The state was slow to test me.
Mommy made them walk the line.
They said I might not talk
so mommy taught me how to sign.
There’s nothing slow about me.
Everywhere I go, I run.
I’m always on my tiptoes,
and I flap my arms when I have fun.
I love climbing and pretending,
I know movies word for word,
and now that I have learned to talk,
I repeat things till I’m heard.
I’m just like any other boy
in many, many ways,
but I like things to stay the same
so I won’t melt down today.
I have this thing called autism,
but I am Matty. I am ME.
I’ve unlocked my world inside
‘cause my mommy held the key.
Note: Now, nearly five years since this poem was written, I am proud to say, Matthew is among the students at the top of his class and in a normal school setting. He's a wonderful little boy, with a delightful sense of humor and a loving disposition. He's both outgoing and outspoken and he's totally fearless. When I asked him what he wants to be when he grows up, here is how he answered:
"I'm going to be a scientist. I'm going to invent a new rocket fuel for space travel and I'll have lots of cats and dogs in my laboratory to keep me company ..."
I love you, Matty-Man!