Ryan and I love having a blog. Finding time to update it often proves to be a challenge though. I really believe that there are not enough hours in a day!
Two weeks ago, we met Officer Chris Morgan, the Mental Health Officer for North Richland Hills (NRH) Police Department. I found out about him from our local NRH newsletter as there was a feature section about him and the work that he is doing. As soon as I saw it, I told Ryan that we were going to interview him.
As a parent of a child with special needs, I am always concerned about his future. Ryan is only ten years old, but one day he will be a teenager and then an adult. How will society view him? With the recent events of the tragedy at Fort Lauderdale Airport, I found myself thinking, what if we were there? Could Ryan comply with the officers’ demands of staying on the ground and not moving? I know that he would understand the instruction and the importance of it, but what about his uncooperative body? This is a major reason for wanting to meet Officer Morgan.
I set up the appointment the week before and Office Morgan was extremely kind on the phone. He was looking forward to meeting Ryan. I had mentioned to him that we had met Officer Hodges last year and Ryan had a good relationship with him. Officer Morgan asked me a little bit about Ryan and I told him some things and I gave him our website info.
When we arrived on that Tuesday, Officer Morgan met us in the lobby. We brought Freckles with us (of course) and he escorted us back to his office. We stayed about an hour while Ryan asked his standard interview questions and I asked a few myself. Officer Morgan spent so much time with us and did not rush us. About a half an hour into speaking with him, there was a knock on the open door and there was Officer Hodges! Officer Morgan mentioned that he might try and come by, but I was sure that he would be too busy. Ryan was thrilled (although his outside demeanor may not have shown it). He stayed and we chatted for a bit and then he went on his way.
After a few more minutes, Officer Morgan asked Ryan if he could ask him a question. He posted this and some pictures on his Facebook page here.
“If there were just one thing I could teach officers about their interactions with autistic people, what would it be?”
Ryan loves interviewing people about their jobs. Meeting and connecting with Officer Morgan was no exception. We are very grateful that he took time out of his day to educate us.
Last Saturday, Ryan, Freckles and I were part of a local workshop sponsored by TACA called Bright Ideas for Communication and Learning for the New Year.
Ryan and I presented second during the workshop. Our goal was to get more parents interested in learning to do RPM with their children. Selfishly, I want Ryan to have more friends to communicate with, but I also want parents to have hope and to know that their autistic children can excel and have some normalcy in their lives! I began the presentation by introducing myself and then had Ryan introduce himself. I thought that it would be good to get the audience’s interest right away by showing what Ryan could do. He did great! Through a PowerPoint Presentation, we walked the audience through the 3 years of our family’s journey (which included videos), starting at the first lesson I ever did at home, through today.
Towards the end of the presentation, I read to the audience Ryan’s prepared speech. His speech follows below:
EACH DAY I BELIEVE THAT HALLMARK STARES WILL GO AWAY. TOO HARD TIME AFTER TIME TO MOSTLY BE TREATED LIKE I AM RETARDED. I AM REALLY SMART. HAPPY TO PROVE HOW SMART I AM NOW THAT I CAN USE A LETTER BOARD TO COMMUNICATE. IT HAS COMPLETELY TRANSFORMED MY LIFE.
UNDERSTAND I AM TOO MUCH LIKE YOU. I GIVE WITH ALL OF MY HEART EACH DAY. MIGHT TOO MUCH TURN MY SADNESS INTO A POSITIVE THING. FEEL PEOPLE SHOULD VERY MUCH GET TO KNOW ME. SOMETIMES LIKING TOO MUCH TO GET TO KNOW YOU. REALLY GOOD TO INTRODUCE YOURSELVES, TREATING ME LIKE I UNDERSTAND YOU.
MEANINGFUL TO ME TO GET THE OPPORTUNITY TO SPEAK ABOUT RPM TO ALL OF YOU CARING PARENTS. TOO HARD TO EXPRESS THE WORDS TO TOTALLY SAY HOW IMPORTANT IT IS TO TREAT YOUR KIDS WITH RESPECT. PLEASE CARE TO GIVE IT A TRY WITH YOUR CHILDREN. ANY QUESTIONS?
I think that his speech had a very powerful impact. We had a lot of people giving us good feedback and asking us questions at the end and after the presentation. Adriana Barriga, the local RPM provider and Ryan’s teacher was there as well. I stressed the importance of finding a certified provider and she has already had several parents contact her. I consider the presentation a win!
Even though I was listed as the speaker, the stars of the presentation were Ryan and Freckles (who did amazing). Ryan and I will be presenting the same presentation this week at the DFW Autism Conference. We are very excited about it.
Later that same day, we will travel to Florida for my sister-in-law’s (Ryan’s aunt) baby shower. Ryan, Grace, and I will spend the weekend there with family. We will try and update the blog next week about our adventures in Florida.