By JOE LOFARO
Special to the Press
Beth and Derek Ivy would not change a thing about their three children Zeke, 7; Isaac. 10; and Luke, 8. Zeke is healthy, but Luke has autism and Isaac has Asperger’s syndrome, an autism-like disorder.
All three boys are brilliant, kind-hearted and, according to their mother, beautiful.
“If we could change anything, it would be to make the world an easier place for them: more awareness and understanding of the disorder, more services and therapies available for them, and for other children and adults affected by autism to have the support and interventions they need, as well, at an affordable cost, too.”
Sometimes the boys can be a lot of work and sometimes they can be a challenge, but Beth Ivy doesn’t mind.
Isaac is in the fifth grade at Martin Elementary School, while Luke and Zeke are in the second grade at Martin Primary.
To say Isaac is smart could be an understatement. The youngster taught himself how to play the guitar and drums and he can speak two different languages.
“He is into computers and music,” Beth said. “He did have difficulty with social skills and repetitive interests and behaviors. He was reading full sentences by the age of 3. He is a professor of sorts. He would play with a few toys and had intense interests in computers (and still does). However, when a child would come over to play, he would revert to his bedroom instead of socializing with them. He has made great improvements in social skills, is making friends and continues to do wonderfully at school.”
Because all three children are unique, Beth stays busy with trips back-and-forth to Jackson for occupational therapy, speech therapy and specialized education.
Individuals on the autism spectrum are just like others who do not suffer from the disorder. “They are human beings who have feelings and want to be part of society,” Beth said. “They have keen interests and many talents to share with the world, and are truly some of the most dedicated, motivated individuals you could ever meet.”
Although Luke and Isaac would be considered “high functioning,” Luke had several challenges when he was 3 years old.
Luke faced several delays as a toddler. “When he was 3, he was speaking only a handful of words, had intense obsessions and repetitive interests, and seemed ‘far away’ and in his own world,” Beth said. “He didn’t play with toys, and was socially withdrawn. He also had deficits in learning and in fine motor skills.”
Luke is now in the typical/general classroom and is thriving, Beth said. “He continues to make great improvements and we are so proud of how hard he has worked.”
Beth’s mother, Peggy Baker said every child affected by autism has many wonderful gifts as well as challenges.
Beth, her husband, Derek, and Beth’s parents Peggy and Larry Baker, know there are still many unanswered questions regarding autism.
“With early intervention and intensive therapies, a child can usually experience growth and improvement in regard to the areas of speech, language, motor development, social skills, behavior and daily functioning (daily living skills),” Beth said.
Autism is the fastest growing serious developmental disability in the United States (with currently 1 in 88 children diagnosed with the disorders, that is 1.5 million children in the United States alone).
“We hope, in time, that more attention can be drawn to autism. Awareness is the first step,” Beth said.
“I am happy to report that every mayor in Weakley County signed a proclamation this month, recognizing April as Autism awareness month.”
Published in The WCP 4.25.13