Often, I like to look back and think about the incredible progress Ashish has made in the past few months. After trying numerous therapies to help Ashish, when we first started using the letter board, we were only vaguely hopeful about the results. However, that first magical session led to a series of amazing discoveries- discovering his comprehension, intelligence, feelings, and personality.
I remember in one letter-boarding session, Ashish described himself as a tiger. He said that after years of being incognito, his time to shine had come. Today, I can’t think of anything more true. He has steadily been taking on and accomplishing every goal that comes to his mind. The biggest of these goals is the pursuit of this education. In these past few months, he has demonstrated competency in several academic topics, and he has worked to teach himself numerous more. He watches Khan Academy and works with a tutor to advance his skills in subjects like math (his favorite subject!), science, and economics. This semester, he is currently enrolled in a US Government class with Level 3 (high-functioning) special needs children, and he is excelling in his assignments and exams.
Apart from pursuing his educational goals, he is using the letter-board to hone other skills such as speech, typing, and summary synthesis. Biweekly, he meets with a group of autistic teenagers and discusses the presidential candidates, their policy views, and the upcoming election. He communicates very elegantly through his letter board and keyboard- his fingers fly, and his writing style is very mature.
Ashish has made tremendous strides in the past few months, but there are still a ways to go. In a recent letter-boarding session, Ashish was asked to set short-term and long-term goals for himself. What he wrote- and what hurt us to realize- was “I am not sure.”
“There is so much more available to me now, that I would not have dared to dream of earlier. Not that I don’t have goals, they have just never seen a reality. Do not think that I don’t want to share them, I just need time sharing things that I never thought anyone would ever have the opportunity to hear.”
Despite his uncertainty, we know that he can (and will) only go up from here. His intelligence, passion, and motivation will allow him to achieve whatever he sets his heart and mind to. One of Ashish’s current goals is to obtain a high school diploma. He hopes to enroll in more Level 3 classes, and soon after transition to regular-education classes. Throughout this journey, and any journey he pursues, we (his family) are standing with him. Whether we are working with him, finding him resources, or advocating for him, we are going to support him the whole way.
And in the next few months, I cannot wait to see where he goes from here.