In April we had our fourth annual art show for Autism in the Arts. It featured Shane’s art which he does with a private instructor. We bought autism awareness bracelets and he made sure everyone got one and showed off his art work. He was so proud. He sold 90 art pieces and made $14,000 from a raffle for Autism Speaks.
About Shane Tarkington
Our beautiful child was born into this world with autism. Although Shane developed normally at first, (smiling, laughing, rolling over, crawling, walking) at two he stopped saying Mommy and Daddy. The tantrums started and the food aversion began. His sleep pattern was never good but now he slept for three hours and was up for two. Then it would start all over again. He was formally diagnosed at age 2. We started with SARC early intervention classes during the week which he hated! When any other child cried he flipped out, didn’t want to change activities, hated the music time. (changing songs was a killer!)
At three he started in a preschool program through the district we live in. He started to understand more and was potty trained, plus we started using sign language which helped with the tantrums. He was learning and loved it! We had a set of videos that helped with writing words and concepts of self grooming and care. The videos also showed how to put on clothes and take showers or baths. He stayed there for two years.
Then we were moved to another school to start kindergarten. We were saved by Tucci ABA services. During his IEP we had SARC attend and they gave us Tucci at home which complemented what was happening at school. The teacher at that time was not able to handle the kids. The past director of special ed wouldn’t move us to a lesser restrictive environment so we pulled Shane out and home schooled him. He repeated first grade and went on to do second and third grade. It was very successful. Having him around typical developing home schooled children helped show him how to act and he learned faster.
Shane re-entered school in fourth grade over at Alta Vista Elementary School. They helped him grow for two years. Truly an amazing teacher and program. He went away to science camp – his first time away from home. I still get teary eyed!
The move to Union Middle School had a lot of moving parts. PE clothes changes, class rooms across the school, lunch wherever he wanted. He blossomed from the experience! He had a core group of friends that come over that are typical and a few on the spectrum (he is still in contact with current 9th graders and the current 10th graders at Leigh High School). The Union philosophy (from the top down) embarrassed him and he felt safe and we felt lucky that he had so many people that looked out for him. A parent’s worst nightmare is the bully factor. He was getting his own lunch at school (not always healthy but what can you do). He went to his first dance at Halloween. I totally cried! Everyone was super nice and welcoming to him. Girls asked him to dance. It was an amazing night. At the end of the night he thanked me for helping him conquer his fear of the school dance.
Freshman year at Leigh High School, Shane went to his first high school dance. Oh, for three hours he danced his heart out. He joined the video game club and the Sisters and Misters Club of Society. He might even add another one to the list. He is taking high school in for all that he can. We love that he wants so much to be apart of the typical social events. He has endured football games which he doesn’t even like to watch but because it’s what his friends are doing, he does it. They make posters and paint hand prints on their legs and arms. He is all in!
In April we had our third annual art show for Autism in the Arts. It featured Shane’s art which he does with a private instructor. We bought autism awareness bracelets and he made sure everyone got one and showed off his art work. He was so proud. He sold 70 art pieces and made $13,000 from a raffle for Autism Speaks.
We will continue to focus on his education. Our hope for him is to have a high school diploma and go on to college. We feel that if we don’t challenge him he wouldn’t have come so far. Giving Shane all that he needs to be successful is our goal. We won’t be around forever and in our minds he needs to be a contributing member of society. We just have to figure out what that looks like. He is an amazingly funny child who wants to please most of the time. He loves his family and friends.
We feel blessed to have him as a son.