I Believe in Small Steps

Hannah - Western Springs, Illinois
Entered on October 3, 2007
Age Group: Under 18
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Hanging out with friends is fun for most. Keeping eye contact is simple. Talking is easy, but saying something can be hard for others.

My little brother, Nathaniel is autistic. He was diagnosed when he was four. The first big clue, which we ignored, was that he didn’t talk at all. No one was concerned because all of my little brothers talked late, he was just a little bit later. Another clue was that he was often zoned out in his own little world. He would run back and forth in the same amount steps, touching the same bit of wall. He would talk to himself but no onecould understand what he was saying. He wouldn’t even respond to his name. If we wanted him to come over to us, we would have to walk over, pick up his hand and drag him. I remember his room was so clean because he never played, unless you count lining cars upside down and watching the wheels spin as playing.

When Nathaniel was diagnosed our family didn’t know what to do, or how to deal with someone who was autistic, someone who was different. I felt that it was hopeless, that he would never be the same. The doctors assured us that he was the same person. But it was hard to believe.

We took it one day at a time, one small step at a time. Nathaniel started therapy and sign language to help him communicate. He learned the words “more”, “bubbles”, “ball”, and “all done”. That was it; he didn’t want to learn anymore. We started to use pictures to get Nathaniel to talk. I really worked. I remember the next small step: he said my name. He said, “I love you, Nana.” So it really wasn’t my name, but for years it was.

After more months of therapy he stopped zoning out so much. Then, one more small step happened, he started to respond to his name. It seemed like a miracle. We’ll just take it one step at a time, one small step at a time.

I believe that small steps aren’t as great as leaps, but are much better then no steps at all. I believe in small step.