Parenting Autism by Doug and Jane Harper

On Tuesday, we shared with you a blog written by Kid’s Creek Therapy alum Daniel Harper, a college student who has autism, as part of National Autism Awareness Month. Today, we share some thoughts from his parents, Doug and Jane Harper, about what it was like parenting Daniel. If you missed Daniel’s post, you can find it here.

Kid’s Creek was an important part of Daniel’s life for several years when he was young. When we started seeing the benefits of his therapies there, we decided that we should replicate part of their apparatus in the playroom in our basement. So, just after his 9th birthday, we bought a helicopter swing and a cuddle swing, and I called our handyman who cut through the ceiling, installed a metal plate around a floor joist, and secured a big hook into the plate. Now we were all set to swing Daniel whenever he wanted. We finally got to use some of that high school algebra and geometry, to calculate how much room we had to work with so that the swings were safe!

For years Daniel enjoyed these swings, and his friends liked them, too! It’s hard to say exactly how much benefit he derived from the swings (though clearly they were beneficial on some anxious days), because at the same time he was doing various occupational therapy activities at Kid’s Creek: Mozart for Modulation at night, Interactive Metronome, etc.

The specialists at Kid’s Creek – Penny Pickles, et al. – were always kind, patient and ready to adjust strategies as Daniel matured. Today Daniel is a caring young man – about to turn 21 – who owes part of the progress he’s made to the specialists at Kid’s Creek. He’s in his junior year at Young Harris College and was one of four students to be awarded a Presidential Scholarship. Once very shy, he’s now much more outgoing. Once a skinny little kid, he is now committed to fitness and works out or rides his mountain bike nearly 7 days a week. He’s going to apply to Young Harris College’s study abroad program and would like to attend their affiliated school in Barcelona in the fall. (where he can further hone his conversational Spanish).  Daniel has held two summer jobs, manages his own finances and has some big aspirations in life, including publishing books, traveling the world, continuing his mission work, and pursuing a career in ministry, counseling, or law – or all three!

We’re grateful for all the help we’ve had over the years to get Daniel to this point, including the professionals at Kid’s Creek.

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