This is why we have a "dreams" category! Below is a story from California that made me grin from ear to ear. How many of us were told to institutionalize our children when they were diagnosed as toddlers? I'm guessing a lot. Warrior Autism Moms (and Dads) never give up and below is a story of how one Mom shunned the dire future described for her son, who just passed the California Bar Exam on his first attempt. Is this story "commonplace?" Not by a long shot. So many of us are exhausted and damn near broke from trying to recover, cure, call it what you will - IMPROVE our kids' lot in life by removing the barriers set in place due to autism. I would say most of us haven't caught the brass ring. But I sure celebrate ANY family who has the kind of success in this story. Even better? Erik wants to work in special education law. What on earth could be more formidable than an attorney who has sat in a SPED classroom himself? And he's already making a difference in group home conditions. Congratulations to this young man. We look forward to watching his career. And to his Mom... we're happy for you.
From NBC San Diego, California.
When I found out, I really did pass my keyboard got wet with tears of joy,” Erik said.
The road to becoming a lawyer wasn’t an easy one. Erik was diagnosed with autism at the age of 3. When he was 5, doctors told his parents his autism was so severe, he’d have to be institutionalized the rest of his life.
Sandi Weber, Erik’s mother, refused to put her son in a home.
“You have to grieve the loss of the perfect child. What you thought you were going to have, is not going to be the same,” she said.
When Erik was first diagnosed there wasn’t a lot of information about autism, so Sandi had to improvise. She started videotaping her son’s behavior and playing it back for him as a teaching tool because Erik responded better to visual learning.
To help Erik understand facial recognition, she and Erik campaigned door to door for Councilwoman Marti Emerald. Sandi said having Erik see people’s reaction to cold visits helped him understand first impressions.
“Suddenly with his non-verbal face and big eyes, he realized I got him,” she said.
She also enrolled Erik in Special Olympics. The organization gave him confidence, friends and strength as he attended college at Point Loma Nazarene University and got into the Cal Western School of Law.
Now Erik plans to practice special education law.
“I got into it because I wanted to help other people with special needs, other people like me,” said Erik.
He’s already written a paper about group homes that house special needs people.
“Two thirds of them in Southern California are below standards on how they treat the residents in group homes," he said. "The oversight is not there.”
His paper has been shown to two assembly members and one state senator. He’s hoping his paper will encourage a change in the system. Read more and view video here.