“A bird in the air will carry your voice to those who will listen.”
I don’t know where I read that quote, but it has been my guiding principle whenever I write. I thank those of you who have responded to my posts in person or by adding comments. You all have inspired me to continue writing. Thank you for listening and giving feedback. I have no answers for autism, but I do want parents and families to know that someone understands the challenges they face.
That’s why we formed the Pervis Jackson Jr. Autism Foundation (pjjraf.org) after my husband, Pervis Sr died in 2008. Pervis was a member of the Spinners. one of the top singing groups of the ’70s and ’80s. We had discussions for years about how we could help children with handicaps because we knew first hand about the challenges. Our son, who is 39 years old now never understood that his father was a public figure, never could sing along with us and was not impressed by fame.
Having a voice is also why I wrote “Inspired By Autism”, my book about my experiences raising a child who was and still is handicapped by autism. I did not want to write the book because it was not a success story, but Pervis Sr nagged and pushed me to write. He said that it was an autism story and every autism story is not a success story. I hope that along with the increase in the diagnosis came an increase in the success stories. With all his prodding and pushing, Pervis did not live to see the final product.
Having a voice is something that my son does not have, nor does he want. We spent years and money trying to get him to speak. We took Pervis Jr to speech therapy long past the time that we saw that it was not working. He has a speech impediment and needed to want to speak bad enough to overcome the impediment. Speech therapy brought out his aggression and hostility and all the challenging behaviors that you hear about with children with autism. The speech clinic finally discontinued him.
We found out the hard way about trying to force a child with autism to do something that he or she does not want to do. Pervis Jr also has cognitive impairments and does not want to do anything that he does not see a reason to do. To this day, if he sees a reason for something, he is far more agreeable.
My son’s lack of voice is what compels me to speak out. He is a big, intimidating looking black man and does not know the effect he has on others. Thank God we live in America and have freedom of speech so that we can speak out. Freedom of speech was not important to me until I became the parent of a son who had no speech.
Another of my guiding principles for writing is also a quote that I read somewhere, “If there is something you genuinely need to say, there is someone who genuinely needs to hear it.” I genuinely need to share my thoughts and feelings about being the parent of a son who is handicapped by autism, which is one of the most misunderstood of the disabilities. Not only is it a puzzling condition, the fact that the diagnosis has so greatly increased is puzzling.
I will end with the scripture that is the guiding principle for the Pervis Foundation, Matthew 25:40, “As you have done it unto the least of my brethren, ye have done it unto me”.
May the power of God protect you. May the love of God enfold you.