Eric » The Inspiration behind RideupforAutism.ca
Our son, Eric Justin Mercier Powaschuk, is the inspiration behind my “Ride up for Autism.” Line and I were married in April, 2002, and Eric was born at the Regina General Hospital on January 27, 2003 . Eric was a healthy child from birth, but when he was approximately 14 months old, he began to show signs of delayed growth in his vocal and social development.
In February of 2005, Eric was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder by the Wascana Rehabilitation Centre in Regina. This disorder affects early childhood development, verbal skills and social interaction. Continued intervention therapy has proven to be the best treatment for children with Autism so Line and I started a home development program. Eric is now excelling at refining his speech, behaviour and occupational motor skills.
The journey we’ve been on together hasn’t been easy, but it’s been rewarding, as my wife Line explains:
“A knife pierced my heart when the Autism diagnosis was confirmed. That meant Eric would grow up with this disability, having to face enormous challenges…and WE, his parents, could not make that go away. I cannot express how much that hurts!
The only thing we COULD do to make it better was to roll up our sleeves and get to work. We had to learn a lot on the subject in a very short period of time. Speech therapy, occupational therapy, music therapy, diet, supplements, etc., etc.
There was NEVER a doubt in my mind that, given the right opportunities to learn and develop, Eric could accomplish anything. Dan and I still believe that. It will mean more hard work but we'll get there!
Eric is a delightful, charming little boy and he brings so much to our life that it’s hard to imagine it any other way. We don’t take anything for granted and every little bit of progress becomes a major victory so in many ways, Eric makes us appreciate life in a very special way!”
Dan couldn’t agree more:
"After Eric was diagnosed with Autism, the biggest concerns I had were how we were going to be able to take care of him, and whether or not we could handle the demands of his conditions as he grew. I did not see a lot of light at the end of tunnel.
Now, about two years after Eric was formally diagnosed with Autism,
After many hours of early intervention therapy and our home development program, Eric has now developed into a happy little boy who enjoys people and the things around him. He has increased his basic interaction with Line and I and with his other caregivers – he’ll give Line a hug, and he’ll play with me regularly. He has well to above-average motor skills, and plays with his toys. We have found out that no object is too small for him to pick up, and nothing is too big for him to climb on!
Now Eric can look you in the eye as he laughs and as he plays with you. He has started using one-word commands in his communications with others. Even with his limited ability to speak, he is showing great intelligence by the way he explores his surrounding and changes them to fit his needs."
We hope that Eric will make a breakthrough in his use of words, and that his verbal development will progress. He’s on the brink of this, in part because in September 2006, he began his formal educational training by attending limited sessions of special pre-school classes for special needs children. This has begun the school cycle of learning and social interaction – something that will help Eric’s development immeasurably.