Kevin's Story: Part II The Trauma, the Realization, and the Beginning of the Journey

Parenting is both the most challenging and rewarding endeavor we take on. In this guest post Terry Matsunaga shares how the diagnosis that his son had autism impacted Terry as a parent, and what those early  school years looked like. This is the second installment of a series of guest posts by Terry that share his son Kevin’s journey to college.

Kevin’s journey began many years back in Speech Therapy at Tucson Medical Center from the age of four.  He was first diagnosed with a speech and language deficiency. All his father heard was that he was “two standard deviations below the average child development….that was severe”.  Yes, it was a shock, and yes, his dad went to work that day, locked his office door…and just began to cry. That lasted for about an hour and then it was time to pick up the pieces and get to work because that is what you do.  Time for feeling bad was over…time for doing something about it was beginning.

At TMC’s Pediatric Therapy Unit, Kevin would receive speech and comprehension lessons as well as socialization lessons.  He received tutoring help in school so he could at least stay included with his age-matched peers.  He went to many psychologists who were helpful to some extent but his success didn’t depend on what he had…it depended on what we were going to do about it.  So, through the efforts of tutors, school teachers, speech therapists, and mom and dad, we embarked on a program to keep him up with his classmates.  Sometimes it was successful; other times not.

At one point, in the sixth grade, Kevin fell back almost five years in his reading and four years behind in math.  But this just made us more determined, made him more determined.  Then we realized how amazing Kevin really was.  He never gave up, he kept on working hard, sometimes until 11 pm at night doing nothing but studying.  It was  pedal to the metal.  The year was tough (oh my, it was tough),but he made up four years in reading and all the way back in math.  From then on, Kevin still struggled, as he still does today, but he himself realized that working hard might be the secret to his success.  By the time he was in middle school, Kevin had made it all the way back in math and was only a year behind in reading. To this day, Kevin still has problems with reading comprehension, but nothing that can’t be overcome with a little help from mom and dad.

Next time: High School