Fernando, Myrtha’s son, was diagnosed with Autism at age 2.
How do you measure your children’s success? By how well they do in school? How hard they try? Or do you consider what obstacles they’ve overcome? In Fernando’s case, it’s all of the above that has his family beaming with pride. I too, am in awe of this handsome, young man.
Fernando is the son of one of my closest friends, Myrtha. He was 2 when he was diagnosed with autism. Now, at age 16, he’s a sophomore at Columbus High School and just received Second Honors! It’s amazing when I think back to when he was first diagnosed. Up until age 2, Fernando seemed to be developing like most other children. Reaching the usual milestones. Then, he started to show signs something wasn’t right. He began to flap his hands often, wouldn’t make eye contact and became almost obsessed with anything that would spin. I remember seeing him spend hours spinning the wheels of a bicycle. Myrtha admits that even though she saw the signs she struggled to accept reality until one day at the park.
Myrtha took Fernando to meet up with some friends. The moms gathered to chat while the kids played nearby. Suddenly, Fernando was nowhere to be found. The moms split up in a frantic search. Calling out his name, at first, then shouting at the top of their lungs “Fernando”! No answer. Finally, one of the moms found him playing on some steps. Going up and down. Oblivious to everything and everyone shouting around him. Myrtha says it’s a day she’ll never forget. That day she decided she had to have Fernando tested. Her greatest fear came true. Fernando was found to have autism. But thanks to that diagnosis, at such an early age, Fernando was able to get the help he needed.
Fernando with his Mom and older brother, Ricky
“Early intervention made all the difference,” says Myrtha. “If you think your child might have autism don’t wait to have him or her tested. The sooner you know, the sooner you can get the help they need.”
Now, after years of speech, behavioral, and music therapy, special diets, wonderful teachers and lots of love and support from his family, Fernando is accomplishing what seemed impossible. Following in the footsteps of his older brother, Ricky, he plans to graduate from Columbus in two years. And his goals don’t end there, he then hopes to attend Florida International University. Fernando, I wish you continued success in everything you do.