“Every snowflake is unique, yet they are each perfect.” – Donald L. Hicks
Just as every snowflake is unique, so is every child with autism.
No one knows that better than Megan Howell. Both of her sons are on the spectrum and are non-verbal. And that’s where the similarities end.
Even the way their autism presents is completely different, something Mom wasn’t prepared for. “When our youngest son, Drew, was diagnosed, I thought, ‘I know this. I can do this.’ I initially thought of doing exactly what we had done with his older brother, Ryan – the Howell Playbook. That was the wrong mindset.”
Ryan is a sixth grader. When he first came to the school in kindergarten, he was most content to be alone and was frustrated because he didn’t know how to express himself. His mother says his first teacher, Ms. Noreen, was able to break through to him and calls it life-changing.
“She was able to break through his shell, and it was miraculous. He started learning so much. We were able to potty train him – and find ways to communicate with him.”
Drew is a first-grader. While he loves interacting with other kids, he struggled in kindergarten in his home school district. Megan said he needed the one-on-one structure and all the tools our Autism School was able to provide him.
“Drew is in his first year at the school and there have already been significant strides in his behavior. The growth in his ability to complete a task and to center himself is amazing. Before, he tended to have violent outbursts, which the walls of our home reflect. He has not had a destructive episode in months and the ACC team deserves all the credit.”
She said the mantra, ‘if you know one person on the spectrum, you know one person,’ is true with every single individual with autism – even siblings – and no one understands that better than Achievement Centers for Children.
“It doesn’t matter who your snowflake is, they will thrive in ACC’s environment because the programming addresses each child’s unique needs. Your snowflake can be a Ryan or a Drew – ACC does a great job of addressing that core element of who they are and what they need.”
Ryan and Drew’s older sister, Emily, has seen the positive impact ACC’s Autism School has had on her brothers. She also has witnessed the difference doctors and pharmacists have played in their lives. Both shaped her career path.
In applying for The Ohio State University’s pharmacy program, Emily wrote an essay entitled, I See the Color Blue Differently.
One line from her essay reads, ‘When I see blue, I see my brother. . I see my special connection to autism that I can use to help others . . . ‘
“Reading her essay was very emotional, but in the best way,” says mom, Megan, of her daughter’s essay. “She is such a wonderful, responsible, loving and compassionate advocate for her brothers. This journey has made her who she is today and I couldn’t be more proud.”
Dad, Derick, adds, “The perspective that came out in the essay was mind-blowing. I couldn’t be more proud of her for that . . . if I could model a sibling for a special needs child, it would be our daughter, Emily.”
Watch this short video with more on her role as a big sister from Emily and her parents.
Consider donating in honor of the Howell Family to Achievement Centers for Children’s Autism School