As a mom of a second grader, I worry about his well being all the time, and I celebrate any victories that is associated with his health.
If the dentist sees no cavities, I’m celebrating.
When his therapist said that he was doing great with his reading glasses for Irlen Syndrome, I jumped for joy.
When the doc said my boy needed to eat more “greenie beanies,” but was otherwise healthy, I danced in full diva mode.
So I could imagine what singer Toni Braxton felt when she learned that her son was no longer on the Autism spectrum. Does it mean that he’s Autism free? Nope. But it’s a health victory, and I’m excited for her.
The Grammy winner sat with Access Hollywood to discuss her 13-year old son Diezel’s health advancements this week, and she was thrilled. She said,
My youngest son— everyone knows— my son Diezel suffers from—or I should say suffered from Autism. I am one of the lucky parents. Early diagnosis changes everything. I will tell you this. I will shout it from the rooftops. My son Diezel is off the spectrum. Off the spectrum being autistic.
R.i.P to the amazing Suzanne Wright. Words can't describe the gratitude in my heart, for all that you have done for not only myself, but the world! Autism Speaks has changed the lives of many, and has brought awareness to Autism worldwide! Praying for your Family at this very difficult time. #AutismSpeaks 💙
She credited her son’s newfound changes to Suzanne Wright, co-founder of Autism Speaks, a nonprofit that seeks to increase awareness of the disorder while promoting research, family services and treatment.
[Suzanne] Wright, who unfortunately just passed from Autism Speaks, when she found out about my son and I she called me immediately and said ‘Get him in this program. Do this, do that.’ She’s been an advocate in helping me so much. I miss her already…
Toni was so extremely proud as she gushed about the changes she’s seen in her son.
[My son has] No signs of autism. He’s our social butterfly. He’s the one who plays with friends and hangs out all the time. Very, very fortunate. And I don’t like to think there’s anything wrong with our babies. I just think they learn differently.
I’m happy for Toni, but unfortunately, Twitter thinks she’s full of crap. There are some people who thought she was saying that her son was cured of Autism.
At no point did Toni Braxton say that her son was “cured” of Autism. What she said was, “My son Diezel is off the spectrum. Off the spectrum being autistic.” Her words are not synonymous with “cure” when it comes to Autism.
What Toni may have meant, without going into a long educational session for people who know nothing about Autism, is that her son is a “bloomer”.
A Time article describes bloomers as children who essentially seemed “low-functioning” at first, but advanced and did “extremely well” at some point in their lives. Rahil Briggs, assistant professor of pediatrics at Albert Einstein College of Medicine, explained it following a study about autistic bloomers back in 2012. He said,
“The critical finding is that when you look at those children that this study refers to as ‘bloomers’ — the children who seemed very low-functioning at the beginning and then did extremely well — they [tend not to] have any intellectual disabilities.”
The 2012 study also found that even among severely low-functioning autistic kids, about 10% can dramatically improve over time by the time they hit their teens. The good news is that Toni had the resources to help her son, because there are a few groups of parents who aren’t able to help their children in the same manner. That’s the reason why this part of the study was troubling.
Briggs adds that another “very key” factor is that the mothers of the kids who bloomed tended to be more educated and not minorities. This suggests that low-income immigrant or minority families may not be receiving the services and support for their children that educated, affluent parents are able to access more easily.
The good news is that Diez is improving. He and Toni prove that there is hope for parents who are looking for their kids to have the same advancements. But the fact remains that Diez will always have autism. According to the Autism Society, there is “no known cure” for autism, but with treatment, educational approaches, and intervention, some of the behaviors can be managed.
If you thought that Toni’s misconstrued words were a bad thing, you can rest easy, because this story has an inspirational ending.
Toni showed the world the power of hope.
Like any other parent of an autistic child, Toni knows what it feels like to use every extra moment she is given life to pray over her child.
She knows what it feels like to slowly lose faith, while attempting to take away the pain and hurt that her child probably could’t vociferate.
Toni knows all too well what it feels like to explain over and over at company gatherings, backyard bbq’s, and family dinners why her child has a condition that next to know one in the room understood.
Toni just told the world that her son had hope for a better life, and the world took the word hope, and turned it into something more. For the social media age, that’s a blessing.
For more information on autism, or to find resources, log onto AutismSpeaks.org.