Blog post

Brendan Schroeder

Brendan was diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder at the young age of 13 months old. When you hear the words "your child has autism" you just want to hold them and never let them go. The grieving, sadness, and anger hit me really hard. He was just a baby, how could this be, but every sign from the time he was born, lead to his diagnosis. Shortly after his diagnosis, I began to learn how to fight for him in the special needs world. Autism can be hard to get services for because it isn't always a visible disability. For every no I got, it only made me fight harder. At 15 months old Brendan started receiving close to 40 hours a week of intense therapies. We would have about 6 to 8 therapist six days a week in and out of our house working one on one with Brendan. When most toddlers were going to the park, lunch playdates and fun stroller-rides through the mall; my son was at home learning. It took weeks and countless hours for him to learn to wave and clap his hands. Most kids pick up basic skills by observing their surroundings, while he had to have very thought out ways to teach him those same skills, with most taking days if not months to learn. He started to make progress shortly after beginning therapy, but then he slowly regressed and started to show other signs of concerns. At 18 months old he was diagnosed with a sensory processing disorder and shortly after that, he was diagnosed with apraxia. Apraxia is a speech and motor planning disorder. I didn't let any of these additional diagnoses stop me from continuing the fight. He then started to respond to all the therapies he was receiving. But nothing came easy for him. He learned to use pictures and a communication device to express his wants and needs. Sounds would come out of his mouth but nothing you could understand. It was still the baby babbling noises when he was close to 3 years old. By the time he was three years old, he had already had a year and half of intense therapy. This was when I started to see that maybe just maybe he had a chance of beating the odds.

Dance has been part of my older daughter Haley's life since she was little. Brendan had been coming to watch her dance classes since he was born. He would always want me to stand at the window so he could watch her dance. With no words and only his pointing, he would want to go into her dance class. Every time I would remove him from running into the dance room, or when we would leave the studio, he would cry...

(Please download the issue to find out more about Brendan)