Sometimes our smallest victories aren't that small at all.
"This Is Autism," a photo series produced by Children's Healthcare of Atlanta, illustrates that point beautifully. The photos capture the moment that kids with autism reached their biggest achievements after receiving therapy at the hospital's Marcus Autism Center.
"For many families that have a child with autism, even the simplest milestones are something to celebrate," the hospital notes.
1. Quinn had a very tough time getting dropped off at day care before. Now she's ready to play and learn.
“Before going to therapy, I had a difficult time dropping Quinn off at daycare. Some days, I would be late for work and stay with her because she was so upset. Now, she initiates the hug and kiss when I drop her off.” — Quintin Harris (Quinn's dad)
2. Gavi didn't acknowledge his younger brother before. Now they're best buds.
“Gavi has come a long way. We couldn’t function at home prior to treatment. He didn’t acknowledge his younger brother, and they never played together. Now, they are best buddies and have a really sweet relationship.” — Lauren Surden (Gavi's mom)
3. Navigating the grocery store was difficult for Ainsley last year. Now she can't get enough of the macaroni aisle.
“Last year, trips to the grocery store were hard for us. The lights, crowds, and noises would be too overwhelming for Ainsley. Since completion of the Feeding Disorders Program, she now loves shopping trips — particularly the macaroni aisle!” — Mary Mullikin (Ainsley's mom)
4. Isaac struggled to express himself before. Now he loves ordering food at restaurants and chatting with others.
“At this time last year, 7-year-old Isaac wouldn’t ask for things. Instead, he would take my hand and lead me to what he wanted. I never knew what he was thinking or feeling because he couldn’t express himself. Today, it’s like he’s never met a stranger. He interacts with everyone he meets and loves to order food from his favorite restaurants.” — Keely Wright (Isaac's mom)
5. Ethan used to have trouble communicating with his family. Now his vocabulary is growing every day.
“Ethan struggled with communication and understanding his family. After just seven months of therapy, he can now understand me. He is starting to ask for things he wants and his vocabulary and expressiveness grows day by day.” —Haley Lindau (Ethan's mom)
April is Autism Awareness Month — the perfect time to spread the facts on autism and celebrate all those living on the spectrum.
Estimates suggest about 1 in 68 children have autism. Autism affects everyone a bit differently, though it usually affects social and communication skills, making seemingly simple tasks much more challenging.
Kids with autism often have unique skills sets. However, it's still worth acknowledging when therapy and the support of loved ones can help them take those small steps forward in everyday life.
Because every victory is worth celebrating.