When my husband and I were first married and talked about our future family, we didn’t plan on having a child with special needs. I doubt anyone ever does. But as we watched our son miss milestone after milestone, it became very apparent to us that he was not following the same developmental path as his older brother. He was late to roll over, clap, sit, crawl, walk and late to talk. When he did start talking it was only a matter of time before he would lose the new word he had worked so hard to acquire. We became heartbroken as we watched our baby boy struggle to accomplish what most see as the simplest feats. Our son was diagnosed with Autism spectrum disorder just days after he turned 2. For a while, it was all I could do to see through this giant label that had been placed on my son. I began to focus on what he couldn’t do and started to decide what would never be able to do – that is until he proved me wrong.
I would like you to meet my son, Cayleb. Cayleb is an extremely determined little boy that will never allow this little thing called autism to stand in his way. Since his second birthday, Cayleb has gone from a mere five word vocabulary to several word sentences. For a boy whose only form of play was to spin whatever object he could get his hands on, Cayleb has started to pretend play. Like all 3 year old boys, Cayleb loves to run, jump, climb and wrestle with his brother. Cayleb adores music and it is a rare occasion to find him without a song in his heart, singing at the top of his lungs. He has worked so hard with an amazing team of therapists and has achieved more than I ever could have imagined he would.
But as far as he has come, the first thing everyone notices about Cayleb, is something he wasn’t taught and he didn’t have to ‘work on it’, he was born with it and it’s contagious. Cayleb has the inherent ability to melt the hearts of those who are lucky enough to meet him. No matter how big a challenge is placed before him, Cayleb’s sweet nature and pure joy are never defeated. Not only did Cayleb not have to be taught to love life, he has managed to teach us. I now know that there is nothing Cayleb cannot do, and nothing that he won’t be able to do – because once Cayleb has set his mind to do something, he will figure out a way.
We are absolutely delighted that Cayleb has been chosen to receive a service dog – and on a life path that guarantees many more challenges, are thrilled Cayleb will have a best friend to share in his struggles, joys and in his love of life!