Nick and Melissa Romo have been together for 12 years and have a nine-year-old son, Logan. They moved to the LaPine area from Alaska four years ago, and recently moved to Redmond. The family is enjoying their new community and has a great appreciation for how wonderfully everyone has adapted to Logan’s special needs. Below is their story, written by amazing mom and autism adovate, Melissa.
The Romo Family
Our family enjoys outdoor activities, bowling and swimming. One of our favorite things to do as a family is float the Deschutes River. Logan swims three or more times a week at Cascade Swim Center. The Redmond community has been such a blessing for our family. The school system has adjusted to Logan’s needs wonderfully and he has progressed academically and socially by leaps and bounds since starting school in Redmond this year. The neighborhood children are a joy and include Logan in bike riding and other play activities daily.
Logan was diagnosed with autism in 2009. Before his diagnosis we thought he may be deaf because he did not respond to loud noises, his name, or verbal interaction with family members. As Logan has gotten older his vocabulary has grown and he is able to verbally communicate most of his needs and interact socially. He has greatly benefited by the social interaction with the neighborhood children here in Redmond.
Logan is a very affectionate child which is not typical of many children diagnosed with autism. Our family has always been so thankful for Logan’s ability to give and receive affection. Some of his favorite things to do are riding his bike, swimming, and having computer time.
Autism can be an isolating disorder for the entire family as many people do not understand the varied communication, sensory, and social difficulties that can be associated with the disorder. Our primary difficulties have been his inability at times to express himself verbally and his very limited food choices which causes Logan a great amount of frustration that can build into what parents of autistic children refer to as a “melt-down.” A melt-down can bring on hours of screaming, crying and kicking, of which no amount of consoling or any amount of discipline can alter. Our family helps Logan daily to learn how to properly express himself verbally and to increase his food choices by overcoming difficulties with texture and smell.
Difficulties with isolation, acceptance, and special services are where organizations such as Autism Society of Oregon (ASO) can be very helpful. ASO connects parents, children, and families together to share the ups and downs of autism specifically. ASO provides respite services, education for parents and families, and advocates for increased services for those with autism as well as public awareness. Our family first got involved with ASO due to a need to meet and converse with other family members affected by autism. The support families share with one another is a tremendous blessing.
Once I connected with ASO and other family members I realized this was not only an organization that could help our family but also an organization I could help support. I wanted to help other families find ASO and connect the way our family connected with local families affected by autism. I quickly became a local chapter representative and have been very excited to share my experience navigating the system for programs and assistance for my child and our family.
I also have additional insight as I too was diagnosed as a child with Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD). My family was once told I would always require a group home setting and would not live independently. Thanks to the support of my family and other organizations like ASO, I am a wife, a mother, a friend, an advocate for autism awareness; I am Melissa, very proud of who and where I am today, very thankful for the support I was given, very aware of my journey and a believer that everyone can be all they can be.
Our family was fortunate to have found the excellent services at Bluefish Dental & Orthodontics. One thing that is almost impossible to get a child with autism to do is cooperate, sit still, listen and allow someone to probe on them in any kind of way. Sounds like every other child, but just think of every other child’s “normal” negative reaction multiplied by 100. It is not a pleasant experience for anyone within a one mile radius!
Yet, the staff at Bluefish go above and beyond showing Logan the tools and equipment, even allowing him to touch things. The staff get down, look him in the eye and talk to him before ever attempting to touch him. The staff is aware of sensory issues related to autism and makes every effort to lower the noise level, move slower and allow him to explore the exam area. They have taken the time as a pediatric dental clinic to educate themselves on the best ways to connect with ALL children and don’t expect ALL children to fit the same emotional/social interaction mold. Anyone who has difficulty getting their child to cooperate for a dental exam should give Bluefish a call.
To learn more about the Autism Society of Oregon local chapter, contact Melissa at 541.419.1064 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Coming up on Saturday, April 5, 2014: The First Autism Walk in Deschutes County. Join fellow community members at this event to help increase awareness about autism, network, raise funds for our local ASO programs and celebrate our kids and families! To learn more about the event and to register visit the walk registration website and their Facebook page.