Welcome to week three of Life on the Spectrum. Ove the last couple of weeks you’ve learned about the Favrier Jones and Burke familes today I’m happy to share the sweet story of the Jackson family.
Robert & Nakia Jackson are originally from NYC. They relocated to Charlotte, NC 16 years ago. North Carolina is where they were married and started their loving family and now have a 13 year old son, Matthew and a 5 year old daughter, Troi. The Jackson family household is filled with faith, love, joy and lots of laughter. Their motto is family over everything.
This is yet another family that I have had the pleasure of following on social media. Nakia and I went to the same High School wayyyyy back in the 1990’s! I have enjoyed watching this family grow. I especially love the hashtags that Nakia using when speaking of her young Prince Matthew. So I asked if she would be willing to share her family’s story, and thankfully she gave me an enthusiastic yes!
Deveter: Thanks so much Nakia for taking time out of your busy schedule to answer my questions, let’s dive in. How old was Matthew when he was diagnosed with autism?
Nakia: Matthew was 2 years old.
Deveter: What made you have him tested?
Nakia: Matthew was born at 26 weeks and suffered a grade 1 brain bleed during my pregnancy. I knew he was going to have some developmental issues. I started to notice that he wasn’t reaching his milestones early on so with advice from his Pediatrician we decided to have him tested.
Deveter: What did you know about autism before your child was diagnosed?
Nakia: I actually knew quite a bit about autism. I have a younger cousin who is autistic. The similarities were there in my son as well.
Deveter: The parents I interviewed previously knew very little about autism. Did you feel better equipped to manage the diagnosis because of your cousin?
Nakia: Yes I did actually. Knowing Matthew’s diagnosis wasn’t a huge shock to me. I knew to start his speech, physical and occupational therapies immediately. The earlier these children receive therapy can make a huge difference in their lives and the parents lives as well. My cousin received therapy very young also and now he is a very verbal, energetic 16 year old teenager. Glory to God!
Deveter: Glory to God is right! I love your outlook. Even from the start you were positive and knew what to do to ensure your son was taken care of. What type of Autism does Matthew have?
Nakia: Pervasive Developmental Disorder- (PDD) refers to a group of disorders characterized by delays in the development of socialization and communication skills. Parents may note symptoms as early as infancy, although the typical age of onset is before 3 years of age.
Deveter: As the parent of an autistic child what does a day in your life look like?
Nakia: My days are long ones. I start at 5 am preparing everything for Matthew. His breakfast, lunch and dinner are always the same. He doesn’t care to try anything new. Lol everything he does is routine and everything has to be put back in place. Now that’s a wonderful habit to have lol. And all of this just for one child.
Deveter: I’m sure your energetic daughter certainly makes her needs known as well. I just love seeing her pictures and videos on Facebook! What is the most ignorant thing someone has said about autism and how did you correct them?
Nakia: I hate when people say they are so sorry to hear that we have an autistic child. Why? He is a blessing from God. My answer to them is always don’t be…he was created in God’s image. So many people don’t fully understand that autism is a social disorder. These children are very bright. They just learn differently. This doesn’t make them less or incompetent. My son may not be verbal but he can read, write and he is very tech savvy. You can’t stop what God has set in order.
Deveter: That is a perfect response! Matthew certainly IS created in God’s image and he is perfect! What have you done to be an educational advocate for your him?
Nakia: My husband and I are very involved in Matthew’s education. His teachers are absolutely the best. I can honestly say Matthew has been blessed thus far with the educators in his life. My husband and I also participate in the Autism Walk and March of Dimes every year. We are also volunteers for the Charlotte Autism Society. We are always ready to spread awareness about Autism.
Deveter: Awesome! How can we support children and adults on the spectrum?
Nakia: Encourage therapy both for the child and parents. Provide support for the adults on the spectrum. Involve them in regular activities. Let them learn, let them experience life.
Deveter: Thank you for that. I’m committed to do all of the above! What is one thing you want people to know about life with autism?
Nakia: Life with autism doesn’t define you.
Deveter: What is your biggest dream for your Matthew?
Nakia: I just want to prepare Matthew to be able to take care of himself one day. My husband and I both had to learn to give him more independence. He’s a teenager now. He likes PS5, rap music etc. We realize he is really growing up. I must admit that frightens me a little. Not everyone will be so understanding and patient with him as he gets older. My prayer every day and night is for my husband and I to live long enough to see him and his sister grow up to where they can both take care of themselves . Having Matthew has taught us so much. Our little family on the spectrum is blessed and happy.
Deveter: Nakia!!!! Thank you so much for taking a few moment’s out of your BUSY schedule to chat with me. Leaning about your family has been the bright spot of my day. You and your husband are terrific parents and I trust that Matthew and Miss Troi are going to be amazing adults. Keep up the good work and keep lighting it up blue!
Reader I hope you enjoyed learning about another amazing family Living on the Spectrum. Stop by next Friday for our final post recognizing these amazing families.
Until next time…
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