Baby Steps: Brian’s Story

by Sandra Bauer

Brian in school

Most often when we think of a child’s success, we imagine college graduation, being named to the all-star team, or getting a role in the school musical. When a child has a disability, success is often defined by accomplishing something that a child without disability is able to do. However, sometimes a child’s success may be taking a first step, saying a first word, or even learning to accomplish an activity of daily living. Such is the case with a young boy named Brian.

First Steps

Brian was born with a twin brother. Unfortunately, when that brother was about 7 years old, he developed severe pain, became very ill, and eventually died. Life for Brian was already difficult as he had no speech, and his parents were divorced. Brian also struggled with social skills and extreme anxiety.

When he was very young, Brian was diagnosed as having no hearing because he could not speak. Later, his family observed him humming some of the praise and worship songs from their church. At about this time, Brian also developed a seizure disorder. He was taken to a medical center where he was given medication to control seizures and was diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder.

Leaps Forward

A country church in Maine decided to sponsor Brian through Kupenda for the Children so that he could go to a school tailored to meet his needs. As a result, Brian was placed in a special classroom with other children with autism. He did not make friends with the other children, but he did develop a sense of security when surrounded by others. He continued to have moments of anxiety, but they were fewer in number. At school, Brian’s teachers knew that he could hear and began to give him directions, including how to feed himself and go to the bathroom. For Brian, this was a giant step forward.

At the same time, Kupenda and its Kenyan staff began to conduct advocacy workshops in Brian’s community. Through these workshops, parents, pastors, and other community leaders learned that not only was a disability not caused by a curse, but that it is everyone’s responsibility to care for children with disabilities. In Brian’s community, people learned to accept Brian’s disability and would even bring him home after he wandered away.

Brian’s life is now more empowered since he was able to learn basic life skills and be accepted and supported by his community. For a young boy with autism, this is yet another step towards reaching his God-given potential!

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