Our family has been blessed with many things including our son Corey, the third and youngest of our sons. While after 2 boys we were hoping for a daughter, what we really wanted was a healthy baby. Corey was the first child I was able to stay home and care for versus going back to work. His first couple of years he was healthier than his brothers had been since he was not in daycare. He also seemed to be the smartest of the three, as he would count to twelve at the tender age of 24 months.
Sometime between the age of 2 and 3 our lives were turned upside down. Corey went from counting to 12 to not even saying 2 when you asked how old he was. It was like losing a member of our family, I was losing my little boy. Thankfully the Pleasanton school system was able to get Corey into the correct schooling program, speech therapy, occupational therapy, play therapy, etc. During this time we kept taking him to various doctors for answers but it was not until Corey was just shy of his 6th birthday that we got his diagnosis of autism. It was a relief to finally know exactly what we were dealing with. Fortunately we were already doing most of the recommended treatments.
I would never say raising Corey was easy but through Corey we have met many great people and life long friends. We had great teachers, support staff including in-home therapists, speech therapist, occupational therapist, behavioral therapists, and one-on-one classroom aides. Our friends learned to understand what we were dealing with when our (at times) out of control son had a meltdown.
Our older boys learned quite a bit from Corey. He taught them to be patient, compassionate, caring young men. They made me proud as Corey would melt down in public places. I would tell them to walk ahead to be away from the commotion but they would walk right by my side as we left dragging a screaming, crying Corey from the mall or grocery store. They were always on the look out to make sure Corey didn’t wonder off (a trait I could go on and on about!).
Fast forward to this day, Corey is a 21 year old college student at Las Positas Community College successfully taking a couple of classes at a time. He takes the city bus to and from college. He has learned to cook some things and makes the best chocolate chop cookies from scratch. He participates in the Special Olympics track and basketball. Corey has become fairly independent and can care for himself, but he certainly still needs some guidance. We are always trying to find social opportunities for Corey as it is hard for him to make friends. Sunflower Hill will be a great community for our son to gain more independence in a caring environment. I think all parents want their children to grow up to be happy, healthy people contributing to society. Sunflower Hill will make this possible for many families to reach this goal with our very special children.