Valley Life for All column: The most pure human being
Special to The Aspen Times
Editor’s note: The Aspen Times, in conjunction with Valley Life for All, continues a monthly series of profiles about people in our community who have different abilities. Twenty-seven percent of Americans experience some disability. One hundred percent are a part of our community. Each has a story.
Meet Rylan: He loves looking for deer and elk, running, jumping, climbing and watching movies like “Moana,” “Trolls” and “Storks.” He has autism and a sensory processing disorder. He is a nonverbal 3-year-old who is “the most pure human being.” There isn’t a single person he won’t show love to. His story is worth your time.
My son, Rylan Jack, is a bright, wonderful, loving 3-year-old boy. He is nonverbal and autistic. He loves to climb, jump, run and swing. He is constantly moving. His favorite thing to do is go for drives in the truck looking for deer and elk with mom and dad. Movies are something he connects with well. “Moana,” “Trolls” and “Storks” are a few of his favorites (but he especially loves “Moana”). Although he can’t speak, he uses sounds, gestures and body language to communicate. It’s pretty easy, when we pay attention, to figure out just exactly what he is trying to tell us.
Rylan also has sensory processing disorder, which means he is constantly seeking input from the environment around him. Textures, lights, sounds and music are just some of the things he gets that input from. Rylan can become easily overwhelmed at places like the grocery store or the mall. The smells, sounds and abundant amounts of people tend to overwhelm him. He will start to become fussy and work himself into fits of screams when he can’t communicate that he’s overwhelmed. Most people tend to stop and stare at us, as if we need to get our son under control without a second thought as to what might really be happening. What might seem like a child throwing a tantrum is actually a child who is having difficulty processing what is going on around him. This can become very frightening and intimidating. A hug or some place just a little more quiet will make it all better.
He used to get overwhelmed at school, and the other parents would just look at him in confusion, but they’ve since been more understanding of him, which is helpful. They’ve even helped hold him and try to calm him down. For the most part, he’s really just very loved.
When people think of autism, they think that means he is withdrawn and isolated. They might also think he will be difficult to connect with. In reality, he is the most affectionate little boy. Interacting with the people around him is one of his favorite things to do. Hide and seek (in his own unique way) is one of his favorite things to play. He loves hugs from just about anyone. He is the most pure human being. There isn’t a single person he won’t show love to.
Rylan has taught us so much about love, acceptance and kindness. He has opened our hearts and our minds to embrace our differences and our unique abilities. Being disabled does not mean unable, it means being differently abled. Rylan Jack is most certainly proof of that.
Local nonprofit Valley Life for All is working to build inclusive communities where people of all abilities belong and contribute. We want to hear your voice. Request a training or join the conversation at http://www.valleylifeforall.org or #voicability4all. Help us redefine the perception of challenge.
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