Monday, August 2, 2010

Introducing Matthew

Today, I would like to share someone very special with you.  Matthew is my grandson, and Matthew is autistic. 

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!
Grammy CJ

Bookmark and Share


Gabby Streck said...

He sounds like a very special boy, incredibly smart. Since your daughter found the key to let him out of his world, and very early, he will be able to share his wonderful ideas with everyone. He's going to amaze all of you every day. When he's old enough, he'll probably be identified with a genius IQ, or very close. His rocket has launched and he will soar.

DeaRose said...

A wonderful story... thank you for sharing it.

CJ have you heard of the water contamination @ Camp Lejeune?

CJ Heck said...

Hello Dea,
Yes, and they looked into it at the time, especially since her older son had already been diagnosed with Aspergers Syndrome, which is a lesser form of autism. They got nowhere.

They bought a house and moved off base soon after Matty was diagnosed. I'm so relieved, because they wanted another child. They had a little girl a few years later and she's fine.

Thank you, Dea!

CJ Heck said...

Frank Calderone (from Facebook page)
A great grandmother, a great mother, a great father, who is protecting our freedom, and best of all, a great grandson named MATTY. We are all proud of you.

CJ Heck said...

Diane Lyon Everett (from Facebook page)
What a moving and powerful story about Matty. You are such a good grandmother and your daughter is awesome for being such a fierce and determined woman who intervened and worked with Matty. His daddy is a man to be honored.
God Bless you and your family.

CJ Heck said...

Kay Easterling (from Facebook page)
What a lovely poem for your beloved grandson, Matty.

My sister's son has Down Syndrome and learned sign language, also. There was an autistic girl who learned to talk by hearing music her mother would play for her. She started singing and then began to talk! Music is very powerful. I believe that schools should teach all lessons to music. My older grand nephew can't remember much, except when it comes to song lyrics.

Little Matty is one lucky boy to have a mother, who went up against the doctors and demanded the care he needed. And a loving grandmother who wrote a great poem about a great little smart boy! You must be very proud of both of them!

You're a wonderful woman, a wonderful mother and a wonderful grandmother. You are truly blessed

Mignon Fahr said...

most inspiring and heartening. Glad you and your daughter and Matty-Man broke on through to this side of my world!