Ah, Jay. How to describe Jay to the people who have not had the joy of having Jay enter their circle. Jay is funny and kind and funny and generous and funny smart and funny…did I mention funny? I always thought that you couldn’t be dumb and funny at the same time. There has to be a large element of intelligence to be able to pull off hilarious the way Jay does, yet in 2nd grade, Jay still could not read. Jay is on the autism spectrum and is the middle of 3 boys (also a twin), so as a mom there was no shortage of opportunities to compare his educational progress. Our other son would come home with math workbook pages and history projects, but jay would come home with Roblox coloring sheets and monsters he had drawn instead. Sitting at the round table meeting for his IEP, the teachers and therapists all told me that we should focus on technology and speech-to-text for Jay as if reading and writing were not fundamental needs as an adult. Lauren and I as parents made a ‘stink’ about Jay needing to be able to write but was clear that his school was failing him in this area. My kid’s brain did not work the same as other children’s brains do. He learns differently. In addition to Autism, Jay has also been diagnosed with Sensory Processing Disorder, ADHD, Dysgraphia, and Dyslexia. The struggle is real in Jay’s world.
Enter my bestie of all time and all-around amazing person, Romney Snyder. Her son, Tanner, had also been failed by the same school when it came to reading and writing years prior. I was desperate and reached out to her in hopes she had ANYTHING she could suggest we could do to help Jay. I knew of Terry Brown and the So Happy to Learn program through Romney, but Terry was the “Down Syndrome Whisperer” not the “Super Funny Autistic Kid Whisperer”. She thought maybe Terry would be open to working with Jay to see how the program might help him and his different learning brain. Luckily, Romney was able to work her magic and we had our first meeting with Mrs. Brown. I instantly knew they were going to move mountains together. Jay was almost instantly reading the starter books Mrs. Brown had made for him and quickly moved on to expressive writing and reading more challenging books in just a few short months. Don’t get me wrong, Jay still struggles at times, but my son can read. He can write. And it’s all because of Terry Brown.
I could not be more grateful that Terry took a leap of faith in her amazing program and made room for the fantastically funny Jay in the So Happy to Learn Family. We would be lost without her. Jay would be lost at school and in life without the skills he has learned at her home.
It turns out I was right. You cannot be dumb and funny at the same time. We just needed to learn what Jay needed and teach him that way. This mama’s heart is full knowing that this program is out there to help kids like my son learn regardless of his differences.